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Title: Napoleon's Russian Campaign of 1812
Author: Foord, Edward (Edward A.)
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Napoleon passing the night in a Russian château near Mikalevka, after
receiving the news of General Malet's conspiracy in Paris

From the painting by Verestchagin]







During recent years the history of most of Napoleon's great campaigns
has been given to the world, with the notable exception of that of
the catastrophic Russian expedition of 1812. Apart from compilations,
I have met only one original work on the subject, in the English
language, during the ten years the present work has been in preparation.

The publication of thousands of documents dealing with the struggle
from the French side by the Historical Section of the French War
Office, has rendered easily accessible an immense mass of material
for the earlier period of the campaign. A beginning in this respect
has also been made by the War Office at St. Petersburg, and some
interesting light is thereby thrown upon the preparations on the
Russian side, as well as upon the personalities of the Russian leaders.
There are also many documents from private sources which have been
collected and published.

My aim has been simply to relate the history of the terrible campaign
in straightforward fashion, without obscuring the narrative by too
much digression. I believe that, as matters stand, a better service
will thus have been rendered to the cause of history than by the
composition of a huge essentially technical work--for which, indeed,
there is no place in this country. At present, apart from the needs of
soldiers--which they are better qualified to supply than myself--it is
not so much scientific discussion of the campaign that is required as
knowledge of its episodes. This I have conscientiously endeavoured to

I have to express my obligations to Mr. F.J. Hudleston, of the Staff
Library at the War Office, for permission to make researches among the
works under his charge dealing with the campaign, as well as to his
assistant, Mr. Baldry, for his kind help during my work there. I am
indebted to Mr. Gordon Home for much invaluable assistance, which it is
easier to name than to classify, since it extends to every part of the



          CHAPTER                                         PAGE

    I.  The Preliminaries                                   1

   II.  Napoleon's Army and its Generals                   20

  III.  The Russian Army and its Generals                  41

   IV.  The First Stage of the Campaign. Operations
        from Kovno to Vitebsk                              59

    V.  The Operations about Smolensk                     108

   VI.  The Operations in Volhynia and on the Düna        159

  VII.  Smolensk to Borodino                              183

 VIII.  The Occupation and Destruction of Moscow          220

   IX.  The French Sojourn in Moscow                      241

    X.  The First Stages of the Retreat                   263

   XI.  The Operations in Napoleon's Rear during
        September and October                             286

  XII.  The French Retreat. Maloyaroslavetz to
        Orsha                                             307

 XIII. Orsha to the Berezina                              344

  XIV. Conclusion of the Campaign. Losses and
       Results                                            374

 Appendices A to E                                        392

 Bibliography                                             405

 Index                                                    409


  1.  Bad News from Paris        _Frontispiece_

                                                     To face page

  2.  The Emperor Alexander I of Russia                         4

  3.  Prince Eugène, Son of the ex-Empress Josephine           18

  4.  Details of the Uniforms of the Infantry of the
      French Army in 1812                                      26

  5.  Marshal Davout                                           34

  6.  Prince Joseph Anthony Poniatowski, Nephew of Stanislaus
      Augustus, the last King of Poland                        36

  7.  Field-Marshal Prince Barclay de Tolly                    50

  8.  Field-Marshal Prince Golénischev-Kutuzov                 52

  9.  General Prince Bagration, Commander of the Second
      Russian Army in 1812                                     84

  10.  Joachim Murat, King of Naples                          126

  11.  The Old Fortifications of Smolensk                     144

  12.  Marshal Oudinot, Duke of Reggio                        172

  13.  The First Battle of Polotsk                            180

  14.  General of Cavalry Count Platov                        194

  15.  Marshal Ney                                            212

  16.  Moscow from the Sparrow Hills                          224

  17.  Napoleon's First View of Moscow                        228

  18.  Napoleon Watching the Burning of Moscow                236

  19.  The Kremlin, Moscow                                    242

  20.  Marshal Victor, Duke of Belluno                        252

  21.  The Church of Vasilii Blagorennyi at Moscow            264

  22.  The Council of War after the Battle of Maloyaroslavetz 280

  23.  Marshal Gouvion St. Cyr                                286

  24.  Count Wittgenstein                                     298

  25.  Armed Russian Peasants in Ambush in the Woods waiting
       to cut off French Stragglers                           310

  26.  The Retreat of the French from Moscow                  322

  27.  Russian Grenadiers Pursuing the French Army            332

  28.  Napoleon, Berthier, Murat, and Rapp (in the order
       named) round camp fire                                 354

  29.  General Baron Eblé                                     360

  30.  Crossing the Berezina                                  370

  31.  Marshal Ney Supporting the Rear-guard during the
       Retreat from Moscow                                    376

  32.  Napoleon's Travelling Kitchen                          384



 Plan of Battle of Saltanovka                                  95

   "         "     Smolensk                                   133

   "         "     Lubino                                     151

   "         "     Gorodeczna                                 167

   "         "     Borodino      _folding to face_            218

   "         "     Vinkovo                                    257

   "         "     Maloyaroslavetz                            277

   "         "     Polotsk (2nd)                              301

   "     Order of French Retreat, October 31                  313

   "     Battle of Viasma                                     317

   "        "      Krasnoï                                    339

   "     Passage of the Berezina                              369

   "     Battle of Polotsk (1st)                              391

 Map of Theatre of War, showing positions of opposing forces
 at opening of campaign and movements on both sides up to
 occupation of Moscow      (_folding, at end of volume_)

 Map of Theatre of War, showing positions of opposing forces
 at the evacuation of Moscow and movements on both sides
 to the end of the campaign      (_folding, at end of volume_)





The Russian Campaign of 1812 was the last and greatest of Napoleon's
efforts to impose his dominion upon Continental Europe; and it resulted
in perhaps the most tremendous overthrow that any world-conqueror has
ever sustained. A review of the immediate causes of the mighty struggle
is necessary and not without interest, but it is difficult, as one
studies Napoleon's character, to resist the conclusion that it was
inevitable. The career of the Corsican adventurer whom genius and good
fortune had made Emperor of France, resembles the fateful development
of a Greek tragedy. By 1812 his pride had reached its height. Whatever
set itself in opposition to his will must be trodden under foot.
Russia, impelled partly by a natural sense of independence, partly by
economic causes, made up her mind to resist him, and the consequence
was an attack upon her by the tyrant of south-western Europe.

The effects of the Continental system varied in different parts of
Europe, but everywhere they were bad. France, wealthy in herself, and
with the material advantage of being able to maintain her overgrown
armies at free quarters in foreign countries, felt them least--a
fact which probably accounts for Napoleon's long continuance in
power. Elsewhere the pressure was cruel, especially in Sweden, which
practically depended for economic existence upon her sea-borne
commerce. Russia, though self-supporting as regards food supplies,
also suffered materially from the cessation of her trade with Great
Britain; and the classes which felt the pressure most were those of the
nobles and merchants, which embodied and voiced such public opinion
as existed in the country. There was also in Russia a healthy sense
of independence, coupled with a feeling of possessing such strength
as made destruction, at the hands even of Napoleon, impossible. Such
opinions were certain to penetrate sooner or later to the Tzar and his
advisers; and, in spite of much irresolution and diversity of views,
they could not fail to exercise considerable influence. Besides, the
commencement of a new independent Poland, in the shape of the Grand
Duchy of Warsaw, established by Napoleon on the western frontier of
Russia, was an ever-present source of anger and uneasiness. The Grand
Duchy was, to all intents and purposes, a military camp, a sort of
French advanced guard against Russia. Within its bounds everything was
subordinated to military organisation, and its large army, organised
and trained on French principles, and with French aid, was a very real

Napoleon's political marriage with Maria Louisa of Austria, at a moment
when he was ostensibly negotiating for the hand of Alexander's sister,
added to the Tzar's sense of his people's sufferings and his empire's
danger a feeling of personal injury. Next year this was aggravated by
Napoleon's abrupt annexation of the coast-lands of north-west Germany,
including Oldenburg, whose ruler was Alexander's brother-in-law. In the
beginning of 1811 the Tzar issued a commercial decree which virtually
prohibited various French imports into Russia, and also permitted the
import of Colonial goods under a neutral flag. The measure must, of
course, have been under consideration for some time, and Russia's
financial straits amply account for it, but coming as it did on the
heels of Alexander's protests against the seizure of Oldenburg, it
enraged Napoleon. In a letter to the King of Württemberg he described
it as a declaration of hostility, and, since any movement in the
direction of independence inevitably called down his furious wrath, he
was probably right.

At the same time these events were scarcely the cause of
hostilities--they merely hastened them. Whatever diplomacy might do,
neither Napoleon nor Alexander had any belief in the permanence of the
truce which had been called in 1807. Soon after his second marriage
Napoleon had observed to Metternich that war with Russia was in the
nature of things. The retention of strong garrisons in the Prussian
fortresses on the Oder, the steady increase in the forces of the Grand
Duchy of Warsaw, and the continued occupation of Danzig, almost on
the Russian frontier, were measures which can hardly be regarded as
directed otherwise than against Russia. Moreover, besides the troops
of Napoleon's German vassals, an army of 100,000 Frenchmen occupied
Germany. It is absurd to suggest, in the face of all this, that war
was forced upon Napoleon by Russia--except, of course, in so far as
independent action of any kind always challenged his hostility.

Whatever Alexander's personal feelings might be--and there is no
doubt that he was to some extent fascinated by the French Emperor's
personality--he was gradually forced into the conviction that peace
was impossible. In 1810 he appointed as War-Minister General Barclay
de Tolly, an officer who had greatly distinguished himself in the
French and Swedish wars; and the reorganisation of the Russian forces
was energetically proceeded with. Count Arakcheiev, Alexander's harsh
and brutal, but undoubtedly industrious and energetic, minister,
had already done much, especially in the direction of improving the
arsenals and reserves of arms. Barclay's measures were steadily
directed to preparing for a war on the western frontier. The country
was surveyed, roads examined and improved, magazines formed,
fortifications planned and begun, and, above all, troops steadily
concentrated. Progress was, however, slow. Apart from the backward
state of the country as a whole, divided counsels in the Imperial
Cabinet, the poverty of the exchequer, and the strain of the long
and by no means successful Turkish war, it was necessary to proceed
cautiously, for fear of provoking Napoleon too soon into offensive

The preparations were, in fact, entirely defensive in character, and
appear very modest beside Napoleon's vast armaments and fortifications
on territory which was not his own. The Russian ministers, indeed,
appear to have been generally rather over-confident of their country's
ability to resist a French invasion. Some of them, at any rate, wished
to take up arms in 1811, counting on the support of Austria and
Prussia. They pointed out that Napoleon would calculate upon Russia's
steady weakening owing to loss of trade, and that therefore speedy
action was desirable. The Grand Chancellor, Count Rumiantzev, was a
strong partisan of the French alliance. Alexander himself, though
determined to stand firm against aggression, was not anxious for war,
and apparently hoped that it might be avoided--as indeed it might have
been, but for the fact that peace with England, which was desired by,
and necessary to, Russia, implied from Napoleon's standpoint war with
France. The impression which the Russian Government generally conveyed
in foreign countries was one of great irresolution.

This impression was indeed somewhat erroneous. The war-party in
Russia was by far the larger of the two into which public opinion was
naturally divided, since it included nearly everyone whose interests
were adversely affected by the Continental system--in other words,
the majority of the nobles and merchants. It was, however, divided,
comprising a narrowly patriotic section which looked merely to the
preservation of Russian territory, and another, naturally smaller,
consisting of men who saw more or less clearly that to ensure European
peace Napoleon must be not merely repelled, but crushed once and for
all. The peace-party though small was very influential, including
the Chancellor Rumiantzev, Alexander's own mother, and his brother

Ultimately, of course, everything depended upon the character of the
Tzar, and this was such as to give the friends of France great hopes
of being able to influence him. Alexander was essentially a dreamer,
much under the influence of vaguely exalted aspirations which were
terribly contrasted with the mass of selfishness, luxury, and brutality
which environed and repelled him. He was impulsive rather than calmly
and steadily determined, and both at Tilsit and Erfurt Napoleon had
dominated him. Probably he hoped to do so again. He was bitterly
disappointed, and his vexation inspired the libellous remarks upon
Alexander's character which occasionally pass for serious history.
Alexander I was neither a great statesman, a great general, nor a
hero. He was, as far as we can see him, a kindly and well-meaning man,
somewhat dreamy and irresolute in general, called by an inscrutable
providence to rule, from the midst of a luxurious Court and through
a corrupt bureaucracy, a very backward and undeveloped realm. He was
often shocked by the conditions about him, but lacked the moral courage
to suppress them. But, like many other dreamers, he could at times rise
to the occasion. He was intellectual enough to act both as general
and statesman, by no means with discredit in either case, and morally
elevated enough to play, in 1812, something at any rate of the part of
a hero.

Nevertheless, Alexander was naturally slow in finally forming his
resolution to fight to the death, and the causes here detailed made
preparations for war also tardy. As it was, however, they were quickly
detected by Napoleon, and used by him as the grounds for diplomatic
protests and for pushing forward his own armaments.

Barclay's preparations, in brief, included the increase of the
number of the regiments of the Russian army, the completion to war
strength of two battalions per infantry, and four squadrons per
cavalry, regiment; the organisation of depôts to complete the third
battalions and fifth squadrons with all speed, and the concentration
on the western frontier of all available forces--ultimately including
9 army corps, 2 independent divisions, 5 reserve cavalry "corps,"
and 3 corps of irregular horse. Information concerning the state
of Napoleon's forces, especially in Germany and the Grand Duchy of
Warsaw, was carefully collected, and the possible theatre of war
studied and surveyed. The fortifications carried out had a purely
defensive character, and cannot be for a moment compared with
Napoleon's constant provocative preparations in Germany and Poland.
Riga was fortified, and fortifications were projected at Dünaburg,
where the St. Petersburg-Vilna road crossed the Düna. Other works were
planned at Borisov on the Berezina, where the river is crossed by the
Moscow-Warsaw high-road. Kiev, the famous old Russian city on the
Dnieper, was also fortified, as was Bobruisk on the Berezina. A glance
at the map will show how absolutely defensive these fortifications
were. Riga is 150 miles from the frontier, and all the other places
much farther back. As a fact some of them were not completed, hardly
even begun, when war broke out.

These preparations were due in their inception to Barclay, but there
were others which were inspired by the unpractical advisers immediately
about the Tzar. Wellington's Torres Vedras campaign had made a great
sensation in Europe, and General Phull, Alexander's Prussian instructor
and adviser, had projected a great entrenched camp at Drissa, a town
that was literally nowhere. It covered nothing; it was hardly even
tactically well placed. It is a striking indication of the confusion
in the Russian councils that, practically behind the back of the
War-Minister who was nominally responsible for military preparations,
a vast amount of time and labour was wasted on this pretentious and
unprofitable camp of refuge. In a sentence, Drissa was absolutely
useless. Yet the man who conceived this almost childish idea of drawing
Napoleon against his will upon an arbitrarily placed entrenchment, and
inducing him to waste time and lives before it, passed for a scientific
soldier! The amount of time and labour expended on Drissa rendered all
the other works slow in construction, and Dünaburg was hardly commenced
when the war broke out.

Napoleon's preparations were naturally influenced by no chimerical
ideas--except in so far as he appeared inclined to renew in 1811 his
old plan of an invasion by sea of England! All through 1810 and 1811
the arming and strengthening of German and Polish fortresses was
continued, and the bulk of the disposable French troops were collected
in three so-called corps of observation in the northern provinces and
in Germany. They numbered some 200,000 men. From Italy he could draw
about 50,000 French and Italian troops. The contingents of his German
vassals numbered nearly 130,000. The Grand Duchy of Warsaw could
furnish some 50,000. Prussia was practically helpless, and Napoleon
imposed upon her a treaty of alliance which required her to furnish
20,000 men, and subjected her to wholesale plunder by the _Grande
Armée_ on its passage through her territories. Napoleon was to make
such requisitions as he pleased, and payment was to be arranged for
them later! The misery caused, however, unfortunately for him, did not
destroy Prussia, and only added to the heavy debt of vengeance soon
to be paid. For the moment, however, Prussia had reached the depths
of humiliation. Austria, though sorely humbled and distressed, was in
a far more independent position; and Metternich's address succeeded
in concluding a treaty by which Austria was to be indemnified for
any territorial losses that she might sustain by a reconstitution of
Poland, and should furnish an auxiliary corps of about 30,000 men.
There was, of course, no guarantee that Napoleon would keep the first
condition, and in all probability he would never have done so had
the contemplated events come to pass; but that he consented to it,
even nominally, indicates that he was anxious to conciliate Austria.
Austria, on her side, furnished to the _Grande Armée_ some 40,000 men
in all.

Having completed these arrangements Austria and Prussia promptly
communicated them to Russia! Despite the grim seriousness of the
situation, and the terrible drama which was soon to be acted, it is
difficult not to see that Napoleon's position was a somewhat ludicrous
one. Austria gave Alexander full assurances that no attack should be
made upon Russia by any but the auxiliary corps, and communicated to
him the secret orders given to the troops in Galicia and Transylvania!

Poland--or the fraction of it represented by the Grand Duchy of
Warsaw--was, naturally and necessarily, heart and soul with Napoleon.
France had always been the model to which the Poles looked up; and
since the Partition they regarded France as their natural helper.
They had fought in the French ranks in large numbers during the
Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars, and there was undoubtedly much
sympathy of a kind felt for them in France. Farther than this feeling
did not go. The chivalry with which the French national character
is credited by its admirers certainly does not appear in history.
French diplomatic annals are to the full as soiled as those of other
countries, and French soldiers have usually been ruthless interpreters
or breakers of the rules of war. And most certainly the natural
instincts of the French people are essentially material. In so far as
Poland was useful to France, France was very ready to sympathise with
her. Otherwise the general opinion of the Poles, later expressed by the
poet Gaszinski, is that they have obtained from France only tears!

Napoleon was, of course, fully alive to the advantages to be reaped
from Polish enthusiasm and aspirations. Besides the army of Warsaw he
brought up to the front all his own Polish regiments so as to give
his operations as far as possible the appearance of a war for the
restoration of Polish independence. Eventually in 1812 he sent De
Pradt to Warsaw to organise the movement against Russia. He gave him
detailed instructions as to how he was to carry out his orders, and it
is hardly possible to read them without feelings of indignation against
the man who ruthlessly traded upon the aspirations of a brave and
patriotic people, and of pity for the people themselves. The ambassador
himself was very conscious of the ignominious part which he was called
upon to play. To all appearance he did his work well; certainly the
poverty-stricken and requisition-wasted Grand Duchy raised a very
large force for the campaign. Napoleon, however, chose later to be
dissatisfied; and at St. Helena violently attacked De Pradt, as a chief
cause of his defeat--a statement which may fairly be included in the
mass of falsehoods which Napoleon emitted during his captivity.

On January 27th, 1812, Napoleon issued to his German vassals a
declaration of his complaints against Russia, and required them to have
their contingents ready by the 15th of February. The Army of Italy was
ordered to march into Germany, and the King of Bavaria to clear the
roads of snow and to supply it during its march through his territory.
The troops were to live at free quarters; if they were not supplied
with all that they required they were to take it! Anyone insulting
a French soldier was to be court-martialled, and the sentences of
prejudiced and often brutalised judges may be imagined. It is, of
course, needless to add that both these orders were suppressed by the
editors of Napoleon's correspondence. In order to extract additional
supplies the Army of Italy was stated at 80,000 strong, its actual
numbers being about 45,000. When Napoleon's allies were thus oppressed,
one may imagine the misery in Prussia, which was treated as a conquered

All this time Napoleon and Alexander were negotiating, though with
small chance of a peaceful result. Alexander desired peace, but
would not surrender his independence: Napoleon required complete
submission. Alexander sent his aide-de-camp, Colonel Chernishev,
on a special mission to Paris, while at St. Petersburg the French
Ambassador, Caulaincourt, was replaced by General Lauriston. Early in
1812 Napoleon induced the King of Prussia to send a special envoy to
St. Petersburg, with the suggestion that Alexander might make fresh
proposals. Alexander made a dignified reply: he had, he said, shown
his strong desire for peace by keeping silent upon the subject of
Napoleon's annexations: at the same time he was willing to hear what
explanations France might have to offer. None were made, and French
troops continued to flood across Germany. Napoleon believed that the
Russian preparations were more advanced than they actually were--this
is fairly apparent from his military correspondence--and was anxious to
gain time. In April Alexander sent to Prince Kurakin, his ambassador
at Paris, final instructions. He was to propose that Prussia be fully
evacuated by the French, thus leaving a neutral space between the
contending powers. Russia would then be ready to satisfy France--or
Napoleon--on commercial questions. It can hardly be doubted that,
come what might, Alexander did not intend entirely to return to the
Continental system, and so far Napoleon was probably right in deeming
the proposal a diplomatic move to gain time. He made no reply, but
despatched Count Narbonne on a shadowy mission to Alexander at Vilna,
and kept Kurakin, with studied insolence, waiting. The ambassador
pressed repeatedly for a reply, but received none until nearly three
weeks later. Then he was merely asked if he had full powers to treat!
He rightly regarded such treatment as a gratuitous insult, and demanded
his passports. Narbonne's mission naturally led to nothing, except that
he obtained a better idea than Napoleon of the stern determination of
the erstwhile soft and yielding Tzar.

Alexander, on his side, was endeavouring to free his hands for the
approaching struggle. The result of the Treaty of Tilsit had been the
long and harassing war with Turkey; and Russia paid dearly for the
blunder into which Napoleon's blandishments had led her. Negotiations
for peace were very slow, and steadily opposed and hampered by the
French ambassador at Constantinople. Peace was not signed at Bukharest
until May, 1812, and even then French influence was still so powerful
that there was fear that it would be broken by Turkey. It was not
until August that the bulk of the Army of the Danube at last started
from Bukharest under Admiral Chichagov, and by that time Napoleon was
already on the line of the Düna and the Dnieper. As it happened the
delay was fortunate for Russia, but it might easily have been fatal.

Yet more important to Russia than peace with the Osmanli Empire was
peace with Great Britain, but in order to keep the gate of conciliation
open for Napoleon until the last moment formal negotiations were not
commenced until April, 1812. In point of fact, though the two powers
were nominally at war, and the British fleet was blockading the
Russian ports, there was a very good feeling between them. Through
the Spanish envoy Zea Bermudez, Lord Wellesley had in 1811 assured
Alexander that Britain was not really hostile, and Alexander in turn
had promised Bermudez that he would keep his troops on the Polish
frontier, so as to ensure that the suspicious French Emperor would
not move more troops from Germany into Spain. Admiral de Saumarez,
the fine seaman and excellent diplomatist who commanded the British
Baltic fleet, handled the situation with unerring tact and skill,
and effectively ensured the doing of nothing which might destroy the
comparatively friendly relations which subsisted between the two
nominally hostile states. All this is doubly interesting, as proving
the hopelessly fragile basis upon which Napoleon's European domination

Russia's first overtures were somewhat clumsy and exorbitant in their
demands. They suggested that since Russia was obviously about to render
vital services to the common cause Britain should take over a loan
of nearly £4,000,000 just raised by her. The refusal of the British
Government to accede to this demand, in itself not inexcusable, but
failing to recognise Britain's own difficulties and the services which
she was rendering, rather dashed the Russian Government, and the formal
alliance was not concluded until July.

Finally, it may be noted that Napoleon, before entering upon
hostilities, went through the time-honoured farce of making overtures
of peace to Britain. It was purely a diplomatic move, and certainly
not seriously intended, nor did the British Government regard it as
being so. Britain was more confident than she had been for a long time.
The French offensive in the Peninsula had very definitely reached its
limit, and Wellington, by his capture of Ciudad Rodrigo and Badajoz,
had taken the first steps in the great counter-attack which was
eventually to roll the French back over the Pyrenees. Calm observers
like Foy saw that the turn of the tide had come. It may be regarded as
certain that terms of peace less unfavourable than those which Napoleon
offered would hardly have been accepted.

Sweden, under the direction of Napoleon's old enemy and restive
servant, Bernadotte, also allied herself with Russia in April--an act
immediately brought about by Napoleon's arrogant seizure of Swedish
Pomerania, but perhaps in the end inevitable. Sweden, however, partly
owing to poverty, partly because of Britain's unwillingness to abet
Bernadotte's designs on Norway, took no active share in the Continental
war until 1813; but Russia was enabled to withdraw most of her troops
from Finland for service against Napoleon.

Meanwhile the French and Russian preparations for war were actively
pursued, though more rapidly and effectively by Napoleon than by his
antagonist, who had to contend with far greater difficulties. On
February 8th Napoleon ordered Prince Eugène with the Army of Italy and
the Bavarians to advance upon Glogau, where they would arrive about
April 1st. Davout's six divisions were advanced stage by stage from
the Elbe to the Vistula, while the 2nd Corps (Oudinot) and the 3rd
(Ney) followed in support. The Poles (5th Corps) were concentrated on
the Vistula about Warsaw, Modlin and Plock; and the Saxons (7th Corps)
and Westphalians (8th Corps) directed also upon Warsaw. Two corps
of cavalry reserves--22,000 lances and sabres--and gunners of horse
artillery were in the north; a third, 10,000 strong, with Eugène; and
a fourth, not yet completely formed, was to accompany the 5th, 7th and
8th Corps. The Prussian contingent was assembling at Königsberg, the
Austrian at Lemberg. Finally the Imperial Guard, horse and foot, was
advancing from Paris to form the general reserve. Over and above all
these formations, which composed the actual army of invasion, various
reserve divisions, French, Polish and German, were being organised,
some of which were later combined into a 9th Army Corps under Marshal
Victor. The refractory conscripts, who were being trained in their
island prison-camps, were formed into fresh regiments of infantry.
The conscripts of the year, who were collecting at the depôts, were
organised as soon as sufficiently trained into _Regiments de Marche_
which were pushed forward into and through Germany to feed the
fighting line. Out of these an 11th Corps was formed, the composition
of which was constantly changing as the advanced troops were pushed
across the Russian frontier, to be replaced by others at the rearward
stages, while these were in their turn relieved by new conscripts from
France. A division of King Joachim's Neapolitans was marching from
Italy to form part of this great reserve corps. The King of Denmark
also, at Napoleon's request, concentrated a division of 10,000 troops
in Holstein. Napoleon did not believe that Britain could seriously
molest his rear owing to her preoccupation with the Peninsular War,
but he took no risks. In March, 1812, a Senatus-Consultum formed the
entire male population of the empire into three _bans_, and of the
first _ban_, comprising men from twenty to twenty-six years of age, a
hundred battalions or "cohorts" were immediately called out for home
defence. They actually produced a force of about 80,000 men, who by
June had received a fair amount of training. Apart from them there were
left for the defence of the empire 2 regiments of the Young Guard, 24
line battalions in 8 regiments of infantry, 8 foreign battalions, 8
squadrons of cavalry and 48 batteries of artillery. There were also 156
3rd, 4th and 5th battalions of regiments already on foreign service,
the seamen, marines, coast-guards and veterans, and finally the depôts
of the whole army.

At the beginning of 1812, when Napoleon was preparing to concentrate
on the Oder, the Russian forces, exclusive of the isolated armies of
Turkey and Finland, lay dispersed in cantonments from Courland to
Podolia, over a line of some six hundred miles. During March and April,
as the French offensive on the Vistula became pronounced, Alexander
drew in his scattered forces and organised them in two armies, calling
up reinforcements from the Turkish frontier. The first army, under
the War-Minister Barclay de Tolly, had its head-quarters at Vilna.
The second, commanded by the fiery Georgian Prince Peter Bagration,
was cantoned about Lutsk. Napoleon interpreted this to mean that
Russia intended to invade the Grand Duchy of Warsaw with Bagration's
army, while Barclay covered the road to St. Petersburg. It is indeed
probable, if not certain, that had their preparations been more forward
the Russians would have attempted something of the kind; Bagration
was eager to advance on Warsaw. The plans discussed at the Russian
head-quarters all appear to be based upon the the hypothesis of being
able to meet the French near the frontier on fairly equal terms.
Napoleon's overwhelming strength was not yet appreciated.

On April 17th Napoleon wrote to Davout, laying down the plan of action
which he proposed in view of a Russian advance on Warsaw. The 60,000
men of the Saxon and Polish armies would, if possible, hold the line of
the Vistula about Warsaw, but if overmatched must retreat on Glogau,
where Davout would be able to come into line with them, while the
main body of the Grand Army came up to the relief in two columns. He
showed his confidence in his lieutenant by inviting him to examine and
criticise the proposed plan.

At this date the French forces were approximately stationed as follows,
left to right. The Prussians were about Königsberg, and Davout's six
infantry divisions and a cavalry corps between Danzig and Thorn, all
these forming what General Bonnal calls the Strategic Advanced Guard,
under Davout. The 5th Corps was between Plock and Warsaw, the 7th Corps
near Kalisch, 140 miles west of Warsaw, the 8th Corps between Glogau
and Kalisch. The Bavarians (6th Corps) were marching from Glogau to
Posen; the Army of Italy (4th Corps) was spread out over 100 miles of
road in rear of Glogau; Ney was with the 3rd Corps about Frankfort on
the Oder, eighty miles north-west of Glogau, and Oudinot with the 2nd
about Berlin. As Bagration at Lutsk was some 250 miles from Warsaw,
a study of the map will show that an offensive movement on his part
could be opposed by at least equal numbers (the 5th, 7th and 8th Corps)
in any case, apart from the 4th and 6th, which could be diverted on
Warsaw, while a mass of over 200,000 men (Davout, Prussians, 2nd Corps,
3rd Corps and 2 cavalry corps) could oppose Barclay, besides the Guard.

Towards the end of April Napoleon obtained fairly accurate information
of the Russian emplacements. Six Army Corps and 3 divisions of reserve
cavalry were extended from near Shavli in Courland to Slonim in
Lithuania--a distance of nearly 250 miles. At Lutsk, over 200 miles
from Slonim, and separated from it by the huge barrier of the Pinsk
Marshes, were 2 Corps under Bagration, while slowly converging upon
Lutsk were 5 divisions of infantry and 2 of cavalry. He could therefore
calculate with sufficient certainty that his strategic deployment along
the Vistula would not be interrupted. By May 15th the bulk of his
forces were on the Vistula from Danzig to Warsaw. The Prussians were
at Königsberg, the Austrians at Lemberg, the 4th Corps in reserve at
Kalisch, the Imperial Guards marching in detachments across Germany.
The whole mass, exclusive of non-combatants, amounted to nearly 450,000
men, of whom 80,000 were cavalry. It had with it, including its reserve
parks, 1146 guns and howitzers, nearly 200,000 horses and draft
animals, and probably 25,000 vehicles.

The extent of the suffering entailed by the passage of this gigantic
host through Germany may be imagined. The mere supplying it with
food was enough to exhaust the country, but it was but a part of
what had to be endured. The peasants were robbed of horses, vehicles
and implements for the service of the troops, and forced themselves
to accompany the columns to drive their carts laden with baggage
or their own plundered crops. Honourable men in the French army
saw such proceedings with shame and regret. De Fezensac tells with
ill-suppressed indignation how he met German peasants fifty leagues
from their homes acting as baggage drivers, and adds that they were
fortunate if they reached their villages in a state of beggary.
Testimony such as this is invaluable and damning. Organised plunder was
rampant, and the French officers, brutalised and morally degraded by
years of war maintaining war, were reckless of the misery inflicted.
The Prussian official Schön tells how Davout, on entering Gumbinnen
and finding supplies in his opinion not adequate, owing to the abject
poverty to which Prussia had been reduced, coolly ordered his troops
to pillage the town! The 1st Corps was the best administered in the
army; and Davout is commonly held up to admiration by French writers
as the pattern of honour and loyalty. But his execution of orders was
commonly ruthless, and there were in Napoleon's army but too many
officers who lacked even Davout's very limited sense of honour. Davout
would sack a town remorselessly, as readily as Suchet massacred women
and children at Lerida; but Suchet would hang a man who committed
murder, and Davout, while subjecting people to every kind of officially
ordered oppression, would sternly check private plunder or outrage. But
other generals were less strict, and the bad characters who are found
in every army had opportunities of committing all kinds of outrages.
Napoleon himself at last complained of the misconduct of Ney's 3rd
Corps. Ney was a worse disciplinarian than Davout, though a humane and
kindly tempered man, but neither Ney nor Davout can really be blamed.
The troops, by Napoleon's order, were to be supplied at the expense
of the country, and the usual discipline of the French army was so
shattered by years of organised brigandage that the rest naturally
followed. The terrible misery inflicted upon Germany and other
countries by Napoleonic warfare may be studied at length in reports and
despatches, and furnishes a very grim commentary upon the moral value
of military discipline.

Napoleon left Paris on the 9th of May, accompanied by the Empress, and
reached Dresden on the 16th, where all his unwilling or willing allies
and vassals were gathered to meet him. The details of his stay--how
kings waited in his antechamber, how he made presents to them, how
queens waited upon Maria Louisa--need not be repeated. The episode was
a memorable example of pride preceding a fall.

Napoleon was not impatient. He had already told Davout that he should
not commence operations until the grass had grown in order that he
might therewith supplement his stores of forage; and he did not
leave Dresden until the 30th of May. On that day the whole army was
concentrated between Königsberg and Warsaw; the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 6th
Corps were all in line, and the Guard was collecting at Posen. Napoleon
in his orders for the advance on the Niemen, on May 26th, contemplates
the army as three masses: the right, consisting of the 5th, 7th and 8th
Corps, under Jerome; the centre, of the 4th and 6th, under Eugène; and
the left, of the Guard, the 1st, 2nd and 3rd, and the new 10th Corps
(Davout's foreign division and the Prussians) which he would conduct in
person. Two Reserve Cavalry Corps were allotted to the left, one to the
centre, and one to the right.

Meanwhile, on the Russian side, the Emperor Alexander had arrived at
Vilna on April 26th. As Emperor he nominally had the chief command, but
unfortunately his motley following of German princes and relatives,
military adventurers and theorists, had much more to suggest than the
harassed sovereign, who must at times have been almost in despair
at being called upon to decide between them. There were lengthy
discussions and much drafting of strategic schemes, few of them at
all applicable to the situation and resulting in little but waste of
time. Barclay was practically superseded by the Emperor's following,
and being naturally a man of diffident and retiring nature, and unused
to supreme command, he did not sufficiently assert himself. Among the
officers who appeared in Alexander's suite was old General Bennigsen,
who had commanded not without credit against Napoleon in 1807, and
probably hoped to induce the Tzar to give him an important command.



Son of the ex-Empress Josephine, Viceroy of Italy, and Commander of the
4th French Army Corps

From the picture by Scheffer at Versailles]

By the beginning of June it was becoming clear that Napoleon's attack
would be delivered across the Niemen. Bagration was thereupon ordered
to leave a corps, under General Tormazov, to defend Volhynia against
the Austrians about Lemberg, and to march with the 7th and 8th Corps
through the Pinsk Marshes to Pruzhani. This movement appears to have
escaped Napoleon until the last. As the French continued to advance,
inclining more and more to the left, and pushing forward in dense
masses into the north-east corner of Prussia, Bagration moved on to
Volkovisk, about 100 miles south-southwest of Vilna, Napoleon believing
him to be still at Lutsk and Brest-Litovsk.

Thus in the early days of June all was prepared for the opening of the
grand drama. The hostile armies faced each other on a front of about
170 miles, with a distance of from 100 to 200 miles separating their
main masses. Considerably to the southward, the Austrians, under Prince
Schwarzenberg, and the army of General Tormazov confronted each other
on the Galician frontier, and would evidently fight an independent
contest. On May 30th Napoleon left Dresden for the front, and with his
arrival at Gumbinnen on June 17th, after a detour by Thorn, Danzig and
Königsberg in order to inspect the depôts at those places, the campaign
may be said to have definitely commenced.



The army with which Napoleon invaded Russia in 1812 was the largest
which he had yet commanded, and almost certainly the largest that had
ever been gathered for the purposes of a campaign under the leadership
of a single man. None the less it was too small for its task, and
when, on August 23rd, Napoleon left Smolensk on the last stage of
the advance on Moscow, his communications were already inadequately
guarded. A greater defect was its lack of homogeneity. Even in the
nominally French regiments which formed the core of the vast host there
were great numbers of troops drawn from the German, Dutch, Flemish and
Italian provinces of the Empire. Round this nucleus were ranged masses
of allies from almost every country in southern and western Europe.

The French Imperial Army in 1812 contained 107 regiments of infantry of
the line and 31 of light infantry--138 in all. According to numeration
there should have been 164, but 26 had disappeared from the roll for
various reasons. During 1812 several new regiments were formed, chiefly
from the _conscrits réfractaires_--men who had endeavoured to escape
the remorseless conscription, and were confined and trained in special
remote camps.

An infantry regiment comprised 1 depôt battalion and from 2 to 5 field
battalions, each of 6 companies of 140 officers and men. One company
consisted of Grenadiers and 1 of Voltigeurs; the former were chosen
for height and strength, the latter, whose duties were those of
skirmishers, for activity. All were, however, armed with the flintlock
musket, though that of the Voltigeurs was of a lighter and improved
pattern. Voltigeur sergeants carried a special _carabine_. Sappers were
armed with a _mousqueton_ or carbine. All these weapons were fitted
with a triangular bayonet. Fire training was frequently of a very
elementary character. The number of cartridges carried on the person
was from 50 to 60.

Non-commissioned officers, Grenadiers and Sappers, were provided with
a short sabre (_sabre-bricquet_) in addition to their fire-arms.
Musicians also were armed with swords.

The total weight carried on the march, including weapons, ammunition,
rations, kit, and share of camping essentials, was about 50 English

The line cavalry comprised 16 regiments of Cuirassiers and
_Carabiniers_, 24 of Dragoons, 28 of _Chasseurs-à-cheval_, 11 of
Hussars, and 9 of _Chevau-légers_. The last were special regiments
designed to accompany the heavy Cuirassiers, who were ill adapted for
performing scouting and outpost duty. Each cavalry regiment had, as
a rule, 1 depôt squadron and 4 field squadrons, each of 2 companies
of 125 officers and men, or a total of 1000 sabres. _Chevau-léger_
regiments appear to have had only 3 field squadrons.

Cuirassiers were protected by steel helmets and cuirasses. The cuirass
covered both back and breast, and weighed about 15 pounds. The
breastplate was theoretically bullet-proof at a range of 40 metres,
and really seems to have afforded fairly adequate protection, judging
from the small proportion of killed and wounded among the cuirassier
officers disabled at Borodino. Cuirassiers were armed with a long,
straight sword and a pair of pistols. Dragoons carried in addition
a carbine. _Chasseurs-à-cheval_ and Hussars had carbine, pistol and
a curved sabre. In the _Chevau-léger_ regiments two-thirds of the
troopers were armed with lance, sabre and one pistol; the remainder
had, in place of the lance, a carbine in order to perform skirmishing
and outpost duties.

The cavalry was largely mounted upon horses of German breed; but even
so the supply was hardly adequate. Besides, many of the horses were too
young, and the hardships of the war destroyed them at a rate which was
steadily on the increase. The pace of the charges was never the wild
gallop familiar to us from many a spirited but inaccurate painting. A
trot was the best that Cuirassiers could usually do, and light cavalry
was often little faster.

It has become a kind of legend that Napoleon's artillery was always
his strongest arm, but this was by no means the case. In his earlier
campaigns he was weak in artillery; in 1805 and 1806 he had but 5 guns
to 3000 men. It is true that his gunners were generally better trained
than their opponents; but at Eylau at any rate this hardly compensated
for numerical inferiority, the French having only some 250 guns to
oppose to 460 Russian pieces. At Aspern, again, Napoleon put only some
200 guns into the field against more than 300 admirably served Austrian
cannon. His infantry also was evidently deteriorating in quality, and
needed the moral as well as the physical support of powerful batteries.
In and after 1809, therefore, Napoleon greatly augmented his field
artillery. He also revived a practice of very doubtful utility in
attaching to each regiment of infantry 2 or 4 light guns, served by a
detachment of regimental gunners. The experiment had very qualified
success; corps commanders were inclined to regard the regimental
artillery as a mere nuisance. It would surely have been better to
attach batteries of regular artillery to the regiments.

There were 9 22-company regiments of foot artillery, 43 companies
of horse artillery in 6 regiments, and 27 6-company battalions of
artillery train. The company of foot artillery consisted of 120
officers and men, that of horse artillery of 100. A battery consisted
of a company of artillery and a company or half-company of train.

The field and horse artillery was armed with 12- and 6-pounder guns
and 32- and 24-pounder howitzers. There were also some 4-pounders. A
battery usually contained 4 or 6 guns and 2 howitzers. The regimental
guns were light 3-pounders.

The quality of the artillery was high. Many of its officers had made
a scientific study of their profession; and the force as a whole was
highly trained. The material was good, but British officers considered
it much inferior to that of their own army. Manoeuvring was for the
foot artillery a slow process, and for the rapid formation of his great
preparatory batteries Napoleon was generally obliged to rely upon the
horse artillery.

The technical troops were sufficient in number, admirable in quality,
and directed by scientific officers. All through the Napoleonic wars
the engineers did splendid service, and never was their skill and
devotion more evident than in Russia. The construction and maintenance
of the bridges of the Berezina, amid every kind of misery and
disadvantage, is perhaps the fairest leaf on the crown of the French

Napoleon, realising that in thinly peopled Russia he could not wage
war as in Germany, had made great exertions to organise a transport
service, especially for the conveyance of food supplies. There were 26
battalions. Most of these had each 252 four-horsed waggons, each waggon
with a load of 1500 kilogrammes. Four of them had 600 light carts,
each with a load of 600 kilogrammes; and 4 were supplied each with 600
ox-waggons with a capacity of 1000 kilogrammes. The oxen were later to
be killed and eaten--a foolish idea, which it is needless to say could
not be carried out. Overworked draft cattle cannot be used for food.
In practice the transport broke down hopelessly. Despite ruthless
plundering in Prussia it was short of draft beasts from the outset. So,
too, was the artillery, and it may be imagined that when horses were
found the latter appropriated them as a matter of course. Forage was
scarce. Finally there were hardly any roads which would bear the weight
of the trains. They soon fell far to the rear, and from the first there
was a shortage of supplies at the front.

Distinct from the army as a whole was the Imperial Guard. The inception
of this force dated from 1800, when Napoleon formed a "Consular Guard"
of 2 infantry and 2 cavalry regiments, selected from men who had served
four campaigns. In 1806 and 1807 fresh regiments were raised on the
same principle, and then numerous battalions of picked recruits. When
Holland was incorporated in the Empire the Dutch Guards were also

The Old Guard comprised 3 regiments of Grenadiers (1 Dutch) and 2 of
Chasseurs. The infantry of the New or Young Guard included 1 regiment
of "Fusilier-Grenadiers" and 1 of "Fusilier-Chasseurs," formed in 1806,
6 regiments of Tirailleurs (Sharpshooters), 7 of Voltigeurs, and 1 of
"Flanqueurs-Chasseurs." The last was a new regiment. The Voltigeurs and
Tirailleurs had for the most part served two campaigns in Spain, and
were seasoned troops. The 2nd and 3rd regiments of each arm remained
in Spain, and the 7th Voltigeurs in France. All the other regiments
went to Russia. They formed one division of the Old Guard and two of
the Young Guard. The "Legion of the Vistula"--3 regiments of veteran
Polish troops--was attached to the Guard on entering Russia. All Guard
infantry regiments consisted of 2 field battalions, generally weaker
than line units.

The cavalry included the two original regiments of the old Consular
Guard, the Chasseurs-à-cheval and the Grenadiers-à-cheval, and
a Dragoon regiment. These were French. There were also 2 Lancer
regiments, 1 Dutch, 1 Polish. Guard cavalry regiments had 5 field
squadrons. There were 2 squadrons of Gendarmerie d'Élite, and the
celebrated Mameluke company--a troop of Oriental cavaliers.

The artillery of the Guard consisted of 10 foot and 4 horse artillery
companies with their train. In August, 1812, the foot batteries
were armed (apparently) with 32 4-pounder guns, 18 6-pounders, 24
12-pounders, and 14 32- and 24-pounder howitzers; the horse batteries
with 16 6-pounder guns and 8 24-pounder howitzers. The Guard also
possessed its own service of engineers, and eight companies of seaman
for work on coasts or inland waters.

The pay of the Guards was higher than that of the troops of the line,
and non-commissioned officers ranked with line subalterns. The Guards
were envied and disliked by the line troops, who regarded them as a
pampered corps. Napoleon certainly nursed them as far as possible, and
in 1812 they were only in action, as a body, on a single occasion.
The idea that they were the deciding factor in all Napoleon's great
victories is without foundation.

Marshal Berthier, as Prince of Neufchâtel, was attended at
head-quarters by a battalion of Guards raised in his own principality;
and a troop of specially selected horsemen formed Napoleon's personal
escort. During the campaign a battalion of Hesse-Darmstadt Guards,
under Prince Emil, and a regiment of Portuguese light cavalry were also
attached to head-quarters.

The higher organisation of the army was by brigades, divisions, and
army corps of infantry or cavalry as the case might be. The strength of
these units varied greatly. A brigade of infantry often consisted of
a single large regiment; and divisions varied in the number of their
battalions from 6 to 22. Compans' division of Davout's corps was equal
in strength to the two Westphalian divisions taken together. The army
corps also varied much in strength, owing to Napoleon's reasonable
practice of entrusting specially talented generals with greater numbers
than less able officers. The 1st Corps of the Grand Army in 1812
consisted of five large divisions, and totalled some 72,000 men; while
the entire Westphalian Corps counted only 18,000.

The science of clothing soldiers simply and sensibly is so little
understood even to-day that it can hardly be sought in 1812. There was
less of polish and pipeclay in the French army than in that of Great
Britain; but the uniforms were frequently as comfortless and awkward
as they well could be. One wonders how the men could march and fight
in them. The headgear was often especially clumsy and absurd. To deal
with the many types of uniform would need a separate work. The infantry
were generally attired in the blue uniform coat which had replaced the
Bourbon white at the Revolution. Cuirassiers wore blue; Dragoons green;
Chasseurs and Hussars green, with facings of every colour. In general
it seems that there was a good deal of rather tawdry display about the
uniforms of Napoleon's soldiers. Love of ostentation appears to be so
deeply emplanted in the French character that at this day the abolition
of the old glaring uniforms has been much delayed.

The soldier's daily rations consisted of, roughly, 28 ounces of bread,
4 ounces of vegetables or 2 of rice, 10 ounces of meat, and beer or
wine according to the country. French soldiers, with their national
genius for cookery, were adepts at making themselves comfortable;
and when rations were regularly distributed they fared well enough.
But Napoleon's system of subsisting his armies on the country would
not work in Russia. Even in Germany in 1806, and still more in 1813,
the troops were often in dire distress for food. In 1812 almost from
the first it was impossible to keep up any regular distribution of
rations. The soldiers were reduced to marauding for supplies, but in
a poor country they were often not procurable, and the unfortunate
men early began to feel the pinch of want. Napoleon did his best. He
ordered the construction of bakeries at every halting-place; but orders
can effect little without materials, and the latter were frequently
lacking. The rye of Russia, also, did not suit the stomachs of men
accustomed to flour ground from other grains; and the quality both of
flour and bread was generally bad. Herds of beef-cattle were driven
with the army, but their flesh rapidly deteriorated under the effects
of bad fodder and fatigue. Generally speaking, the periods when the
Grand Army was not living from hand to mouth were few, even on the
advance. During the retreat it was half-starved at best.

ARMY IN 1812

From "_Uniformes de l'Armée française_." By Lienhart and Humbert

_By permission of the publisher, Moritz Ruhl, Leipzig_]

In the disorganisation of the transport the hospital service fared
badly. There was a fairly adequate staff of surgeons and medical
officers; but their efforts--often devoted and persevering in the
highest degree--could effect little when supplies of every kind were
lacking. On the outward route, no less than the return, men died in
thousands by the roadsides, uncared for and unnoticed. Nearly half
the Bavarian Corps died or was invalided without seeing an enemy. The
hospitals were inadequate and badly equipped from the outset; later on
their condition became too frightful for words. All whom ill-fortune or
duty brought into contact with them describe them in terms of horror.
They eventually became mere charnel-houses, in which men were left to
perish in thousands of every kind of misery.

The French army in 1812 was undoubtedly, from the military standpoint,
the best organised in Europe; but its officers, as a whole, left
much to be desired. The rapid increase of the numbers of the rank
and file since 1806 had involved the improvisation of thousands of
officers, often from doubtful material. The best of the regimental
officers were those who united education to practical experience,
but they were relatively few in number. The cadets of the military
school were admirable material, but naturally lacked experience and,
as De Fezensac adds, the physical strength which was so necessary.
But besides those classes of educated officers there was a third
composed of promoted sergeants, whose education was, as a rule,
elementary. One of them, the worthy Staff-Captain Coignet, tells us in
his delightful autobiography that he did not learn to write until he
was thirty-three years of age! He was, indeed, a man of much natural
sagacity, and keenly regretted his deficiencies; but it is obvious that
these illiterate men can scarcely have made good company officers.
The officers of the artillery and engineers were indeed generally
excellent; but many of those of the cavalry, though dashing leaders on
the field, possessed little solid knowledge of the duties of their arm,
and the work of keeping in touch with the enemy was often very badly

As regards their ideas of personal ease the French officers were no
better than their opponents. Their private vehicles and baggage swelled
the trains to gigantic dimensions--a fact which contributed much to the
disasters of the retreat.

The quality of the rank and file was by no means what it had been in
the great years of Austerlitz and Jena. The bloody campaign of 1807
had created gaps not easily to be filled at the time, and the Austrian
and Peninsular wars deprived the army of the leisure necessary for
it to repair its losses. The French divisions of the 1st, 2nd, 3rd
and 4th Army Corps contained many old regiments, but even in them
there was a large proportion of recruits; and there were a number
of regiments, belonging to newly annexed provinces, which were not
altogether trustworthy. Their material--the sturdy peasantry of the Low
Countries and North Germany--was excellent, and their conduct on the
field usually irreproachable; but their administration and discipline
left much to be desired. Their bad condition was continually exercising
the soul of the order-loving Davout. In one despatch he describes the
Dutch 33rd Léger as _canaille_, and declares in disgust that he can do
nothing with it. Ney likewise complained of the 129th, and pointed out
that it would have been better to draft the recruits of which it was
composed into older regiments. It is probable that Napoleon's object in
forming new units was to train as many officers as possible.

The deterioration of the troops rendered it necessary to employ deep
tactical formations, with consequent risk of heavy losses. The usual
formations for attacking infantry were (1) the "column of companies,"
in which each battalion advanced with its companies in three-deep line,
one behind another, and (2) the "column of divisions," with a front
of two companies instead of one. At best the front was narrow and the
volume of fire proportionately weak, even when, as was usual, each
battalion was preceded by a skirmishing line of Voltigeurs. Napoleon
was fully aware of the fire weakness of these attack formations, and
recommended as the ideal the _ordre mixte_ in which battalions in
column alternated with others in line. This order, like the others,
failed hopelessly against the British two-deep line which brought
every musket into action; and it is remarkable that able French
generals continued to employ it when its inefficiency had been so
clearly demonstrated. It is at least probable that the excitable and
imaginative French soldiery could not advance steadily in line. At any
rate, French tacticians trusted, to the end, in the thick skirmishing
line which preceded the advance being able to clear a way for the
masses behind. As the Russians, with less intelligent and (on the
whole) worse trained troops, adopted similar tactics, the problems
which troubled the French in Spain did not arise in Russia.

The French cavalry was excellent on the field, but otherwise often
unsatisfactory. In scouting and outpost work it was inefficient; more
than once during the campaign touch with the Russians was entirely
lost. No doubt much of this inefficiency was due to the exhaustion of
the horses. Forage was generally scarce, and to losses from fatigue and
lack of food were soon added those in action. The men were frequently
poor horse-masters. Murat took no care for the mounts, and over-worked
his force from the first. When the central army began its retreat only
15,000 horsemen remained mounted, and none but the Guard regiments were
really fit for service.

Concerning the internal condition of the French army something must
be said. With the old soldiers devotion to their leader was still
the watchword; but it would be a grave mistake to imagine that this
sentiment was universal, especially among the better educated elements
of the army. Yet the loyalty of the troops, as a whole, admits of no
doubt. Sir Robert Wilson and De Fezensac are at one in bearing witness
to this. The desire for plunder no doubt counted for something, but it
was hunger rather than greed that made the French soldier a marauder.
The spirit of brigandage was indeed rife in the army, and infected
everyone from the commanders downward. On the whole, it may fairly
be said that in the ranks the sense of loyalty was strong and the
general spirit good, but that discipline was often badly maintained
and naturally tended to become more and more relaxed as hardships
increased. Further, it may be observed that while there were numbers
of irreproachable men among the officers, there were also many greedy
adventurers, besides those who were demoralised, like their men, by
years of predatory warfare. Finally, there was, of course, in the army
the ruffianly element, which is never absent. To this element must be
attributed the commission of most of the atrocities which undoubtedly
took place, and for which the whole army had later to suffer. One
further point must be touched upon. The evidence as to the presence
of women and children with the army, especially during the retreat,
is abundant and overwhelming. This unhappy element consisted, in the
first place, of female camp-followers--_vivandières_, _cantinières_
and the like--mostly the wives of soldiers. Some of the officers, at
any rate, were ill-advised enough to take their wives with them. The
foreign population of Moscow mostly awaited the invaders, and fled
with them in fear of Russian vengeance. Finally, the morals of the
French army in sexual matters can only be described as low, at any rate
from the British standpoint. Napoleon himself was not so much immoral
as unmoral--not that there is any absolute proof that he gave way to
his passions during the Russian campaign--and many of his officers
followed his example. On the whole, it seems clear that for one reason
or another the invading army was burdened with thousands of women and
children, whose sufferings during the retreat constituted probably its
most harrowing feature.

The troops of the allied states who accompanied and outnumbered the
French were, generally speaking, the fair equals on the field of their
comrades-in-arms. The Bavarians, Westphalians and Württembergers all
behaved splendidly; and some of the finest fighting in the war was
accomplished by the Berg and Baden regiments at the passage of the
Berezina. The Italians fought admirably at the one general action at
which they had the fortune to be present. The great Polish contingent
performed splendid service for the man to whom Poland looked for its
restoration to the roll of independent nations. Nor can any fault be
found with the conduct in battle of the Spanish and Portuguese troops,
though they were no better than prisoners, serving by compulsion. The
Austrians and Prussians generally took no very prominent part in the
campaign; but what they did was by no means to their discredit.

It was in administration rather than fighting quality that the allied
troops fell below the French standard. They were also generally
so badly supplied that the best administration could have effected
little to improve their lot. The fine Bavarian and Württemberg troops
wasted away by half before they had seen an enemy, and the Poles, to
judge from Poniatowski's despatches, were often little better off.
That the Spaniards and Portuguese supplied more than their proportion
of deserters and pillagers is merely what might have been expected,
and the same may be said of the Croats and Illyrians, whose interest
in the war in which they were sacrificed was absolutely _nil_. Yet,
on the whole, it cannot well be said that the foreign troops showed
conspicuously worse discipline than their French comrades, though
doubtless the general mixture of races and languages tended to lower
the general standard.

As to the absolute quality of the allied troops it is very difficult to
speak. The German and Swiss infantry were very solid and good, though
of course the quality of the different contingents varied, and perhaps
the Bavarians, Württembergers and Badeners rose above the general
level. The Saxon cavalry were admirable, and probably the best in the
entire _Grande Armée_. The German artillery also, especially that of
Württemberg, was good.

The best of the Polish troops were very good indeed; but the regiments
were largely composed of raw recruits, hastily raised for the great
effort which, as the Poles of Warsaw fondly hoped, was to re-establish
their national existence. The cavalry was good; the infantry less so.
Discipline does not appear to have been very satisfactory; the officers
included too many _Pans_, owing their commissions to their noble birth.

The Prussians were probably the best disciplined and best officered of
all the allied troops. The general quality of the Austrians, also, was

Upon the whole, it cannot be doubted that the _Grande Armée_ of 1812
was too heterogeneous, and that its quality was not of the best. Much
of it had been hastily raised; and its enormous numbers merely added
to the difficulty of provisioning it and, in consequence, to its misery
and losses. General Bonnal thinks that Napoleon, when he collected the
gigantic force, was more or less suffering from megalomania; and that
he would have achieved more had he depended upon a Franco-Polish first
line of about 250,000 troops, perfectly organised, disciplined and
supplied. The point is certainly worthy of consideration.

Something must be said of the commanders who, under the direction
of Napoleon, conducted the greatest of his armies during the most
ambitious and disastrous of his campaigns.

For Napoleon himself a very few words must suffice. More has probably
been written about him than of any other single figure in history.
No good purpose can here be served by anything more than some brief
animadversions upon the share which he himself had in the catastrophe
of 1812.

Napoleon's position as the greatest military leader of modern times
is as yet unchallenged; and it is needless therefore to discuss it.
In 1812 he was, as far as years go, a comparatively young man. He was
barely forty-three; his bodily energy and capacity of endurance were
yet enormous. Nevertheless, he was not the Napoleon of 1800 and 1805.
He had grown stout and somewhat unwieldy; and his gross habit of body
must at times have affected his mind. Nor is it possible to ignore
the first-hand evidence as to his indifferent health on more than one
important occasion.

Napoleon's fierce and impetuous nature always made light of obstacles,
and lack of patience was certainly a very pronounced feature in his
character. Wellington is said to have remarked that it incapacitated
the Emperor from defensive action in 1814, when circumstances
imperatively demanded it.

Finally, Napoleon in 1812 was ruler as well as general; and political
considerations probably had something to do with his adoption of
courses of action indefensible from the military standpoint.

Napoleon's natural impatience, and his rage at being unable to strike
a crushing blow, will probably explain the fatal rush in August past
Smolensk on to Moscow. Bodily suffering appears to the author to
account satisfactorily for his undoubted lack of energy at Borodino.
The fatal delay at Moscow may fairly be attributed to a combination of
political circumstances and not entirely unfounded optimism as regards
the future.

For some of Napoleon's amazing blunders on the retreat reasons such as
these will hardly account. The fatal dispersion of the marching columns
along 60 miles of road, even after passing Smolensk, when the army was
already worn down to a mere remnant; the unnecessarily slow pace of the
march, the burning of the pontoon train previous to the passage of the
Berezina, are cases in point; and can hardly be attributed to anything
save declining intellectual powers.

On the whole, it seems difficult to deny that Napoleon, in 1812,
had definitely entered upon his decline; that his perception was
less clear than of old; that his bodily energy had decayed; that his
genius, though still capable of burning brightly, now only blazed forth
fitfully. Certainly there were times during the Moscow campaign when it
appeared to be almost extinct.

Marshal Berthier, Prince of Neufchâtel, served in 1812, as in every
campaign of Napoleon since 1796, as chief-of-staff. His methodical
habits and untiring industry, coupled with his complete familiarity
with Napoleon's character, rendered him indispensable to the latter.
His military talents were not remarkable, and his general position
was rather that of a confidential secretary than that of a modern
chief-of-staff--for whom, indeed, there was no place near a man of
Napoleon's essentially despotic temperament.



Commander of the 1st French Army Corps

From the painting by Gautherdt at Versailles]

Marshal Louis Nicolas Davout, Prince of Eckmuhl and Duke of Auërstadt,
commander of the huge 1st _Corps d'Armée_, was probably the best of
all Napoleon's generals, though he never had such opportunities of
distinguishing himself in independent command as were granted to
Masséna and Soult. He was a fine example of the modern scientific
soldier, a stern disciplinarian and an admirable administrator, with a
passion for order and method; and very careful of his men. The charges
of cruelty brought against him do not appear to the author to have been
satisfactorily made out--certainly not according to the standards of
humanity generally accepted in Continental warfare. At the same time,
there was undoubtedly a harsh and rough side to his character, and
he seems to have lacked self-control and tact. Davout had excellent
strategic insight, and his tactical ability and tenacity in action had
been frequently and brilliantly demonstrated. He took a distinguished
part in the first half of the campaign of 1812, but rather failed in
the unaccustomed post of rear-guard commander. Men of his methodical
habit of mind are probably ill-fitted to shine in such a turmoil of
misery and disorder as the retreat from Moscow.

Marshal Oudinot, Duke of Reggio, was a hard-fighting veteran of
the Revolution, who had received his bâton for services rendered
in supporting Davout at Wagram. He was an excellent subordinate,
but failed in separate command like so many of Napoleon's generals,
though his action previous to the passage of the Berezina was highly

Michel Ney, Duke of Elchingen, Marshal of France, reaped most of the
credit gained by Napoleon's generals in 1812. Ney is commonly regarded
as a mere hard fighter, but he was fairly well educated, and to all
appearance a careful administrator. Among the papers of the French War
Office relating to 1812 is an order in which he carefully instructs his
suffering troops how to cook the unground grain which was their only
food. As a strategist Ney did not excel, and he failed in independent
command, but he was a fine tactician, and as a corps commander probably
unsurpassed. His famous title "Le Brave des Braves" fairly sums up his
character. His courage was indeed of that nobler type which rises to
its height at the moment when that of meaner men declines.

Prince Eugène, Viceroy of Italy, son of the ex-Empress Josephine, was
by virtue of his Imperial rank the commander of the army of Italy.
He was brave, disinterested and devoted to his stepfather, but his
military talents were not great, and he lacked experience. In 1809
he had been opposed to a commander even less capable than himself,
and his officers and soldiers had helped him successfully out of his

Prince Joseph Anthony Poniatowski, nephew of the last King of Poland,
could hardly have been passed over in appointing a commander for the
5th (Polish) Army Corps; especially as he was Minister of War of the
Grand Duchy of Warsaw. He was brave and popular with his men, but
possessed of no great capacity, and was indolent and pleasure loving.

General Gouvion St. Cyr, who was promoted Marshal for his victory
over Wittgenstein at Polotsk in August, was a very capable though
disaffected officer, who had, as far as good service counted for
anything, won his bâton long before.

General Reynier, the commander of the Saxon 7th Corps, was a
hard-fighting, experienced soldier of no special ability, and extremely
unfortunate in war. Junot, who took over the Westphalian Corps from
King Jerome, owed his position chiefly to Napoleon's friendship for him.



Commander of the 5th (Polish) Corps of the Grand Army

From the painting by T.A. Vauchelet at Versailles]

King Jerome Napoleon of Westphalia would probably have done well
enough at the head of the troops of his own kingdom; his courage, as
he showed at Waterloo, was beyond question. But to place him in
command of three army corps, operating in a difficult country, and
charged with a vitally important mission, was a gigantic blunder on
the part of Napoleon. It is no especial discredit to Jerome that he
failed so completely. General Bonnal observes that he cannot be blamed
for transgressing military principles with which he had never been

Marshal Victor, the commander of the 9th Corps, was an experienced
officer, but had been very unfortunate in the Peninsula against the

Marshal Macdonald, commanding the 10th Corps, took a very small part in
the campaign; and, unless he had special orders, cannot be said to have
displayed much activity. He was a man of high personal character and a
good hard-fighting corps commander, but of no eminence as a general.

Napoleon, during the latter part of his career, was repeatedly accused
of placing his relations in positions for which they were not fitted.
The case of King Jerome is one in point; so also perhaps, to a certain
extent, is that of Napoleon's celebrated brother-in-law, Joachim
Murat, King of Naples, commander of the Cavalry Reserves. Audacity and
tactical ability on the field Murat certainly possessed, but he was
hardly a great cavalry leader. His outpost and reconnaissance work was
often very badly performed, and his impetuosity caused him to overwork
and harass his men and horses. He lacked stability of character and
steadiness in adversity, as he was soon to show. Yet as King of Naples
he possesses more than one title to esteem, and in his character,
amidst vanity and absurdity, there was much that was elevated and noble.

The commanders of the four corps under Murat's orders were all men of
experience as cavalry leaders. The best of them, perhaps, was Nansouty,
at any rate in his own estimation, but the name of Grouchy is better
known in Great Britain. Montbrun and Latour-Maubourg had seen much
service in Spain.

Marshal Lefebvre, Duke of Dantzic, commander of the Old Guard, was much
attached to Napoleon, but otherwise merely a rough, honest old soldier
of little strategic or tactical ability. His title was much better
deserved by the brilliant engineer, General Chasseloup, who accompanied
the army in 1812 as chief of his branch of the service.

Marshal Mortier, Duke of Treviso, commander of the Young Guard, was an
excellent corps commander, as had been demonstrated in Spain.

Marshal Bessières, Duke of Istria, had been associated with the cavalry
of the Guard since its formation. He was a fine cavalry leader, and a
man of integrity and devotion to his chief, otherwise deserving of no
special mention.

Generally speaking, Napoleon's commanding officers had one great
defect. With few exceptions they had become so habituated to submission
to the dominating personality of the Emperor that they had lost all
power of initiative.

In an army so huge and of such experience there were naturally many
officers who in a less warlike age would have been acclaimed as great
generals. The majority of the divisional and brigade leaders were
excellent, though some were already wearing out. Several of them--men
such as Verdier--had had considerable experience in independent
command, and some had acquired therein a by no means savoury
reputation. Gudin, the leader of Davout's 3rd Division, was perhaps the
most distinguished as a soldier, but his colleagues Friant, Morand,
Desaix and Compans were all fine officers. Legrand, Merle, Verdier,
Ledru, Marchand, Broussier, Pino, Bruyère, Sebastiani, St. Germain,
Claparède, Tharreau, and others were men of considerable merit and

Of the General Staff it may be said that it had scarcely any affinity
with the board of specially trained officers which accompanies and
assists a modern commander-in-chief. Napoleon's absorption, in his
single person, of all military and administrative functions had reduced
it to a position of complete insignificance. For all practical purposes
it was nothing but a mass of orderlies, and though it contained many
talented and meritorious officers they had small opportunity of
distinguishing themselves so long as they remained members of it.
Napoleon in one moment of exasperation declared that "the General Staff
is organised in such a manner that nothing is foreseen." The remark was
more or less true; but that such a state of affairs could exist is a
very severe comment upon his methods. The invading host was, in short,
the army of a despot who endeavoured to supervise everything himself
and discouraged initiative in others, with the natural result that much
that might have been done to minimise the catastrophe was not attempted.

The numbers of the invading army and its composition, according to the
states and peoples who contributed contingents, are given in detail in
Appendices A and B. Roughly it may be said that during the campaign
Napoleon disposed of the following numbers:--

First Line

 Head-quarters; Imperial Guard;                  }
   1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 10th, }
   Corps;                                        }  449,000
 Austrian Corps; Cavalry Reserve                 }

Second Line

 9th Corps; Polish and Lithuanian levies;        }
 2 French Divisions;                             }  165,000
 German Troops, Drafts, Parks, etc.              }

Third Line

 Drafts and organised troops in touch with       }
   Russians at close of campaign, including      }   60,000
   garrisons of Danzig and on Vistula            }

The composition by nations of the first two lines may be stated as

 French and New French                              302,000
 Germans and Swiss                                  190,000
 Poles and Lithuanians                               90,000
 Italians, Illyrians, Spaniards, Portuguese          32,000



The circumstance which most impresses the reader who for the first
time, and without knowledge of the conditions, peruses the story of
the Franco-Russian campaign of 1812 is that the forces of Russia were,
as compared with those of Napoleon, very weak. This weakness in war is
familiar enough to all students of Russian history, nor are the reasons
far to seek. Since, however, it must appear peculiar to all who regard
Russia as a power essentially huge and powerful--the "Colossus of the
North"--its causes must be briefly reviewed.

It is true that Russia is a country of vast extent; but her huge
territory, to-day very imperfectly developed, was in 1812 largely
in an almost primeval condition, while the population was even more
sparsely distributed. The country was and is covered in many places
by wide expanses of almost impenetrable forest, and by vast tracts of
morass. In the western provinces the marshes of Pinsk cover an area
of more than 20,000 square miles; and in 1812 they were pierced by
only three indifferent roads. The majority of the numerous rivers do
not in themselves present grave obstacles to intercommunication or
military operations, being in summer shallow and easily fordable, and
in winter usually frozen over, but they are often wide, and frequently
have soft or sandy beds. The larger of them must be negotiated by means
of bridges, and in 1812 bridges were few. Moreover, in Central Russia
the soil is generally yielding and sandy, and every small stream has
hollowed for itself in the course of ages a gully more or less deep.
These gullies, repeatedly recurring, presented considerable obstacles,
especially since they were rarely bridged.

The distances to be traversed were and are enormous. Readers of
Herodotus will remember how the prospect of the three months' march
from Miletus to Susa frightened Kleomenes and the elders of Sparta. To
transfer troops from the Caucasus to St. Petersburg in 1812 involved a
journey of even greater magnitude--without the aid of the Royal Road of
Persia. Even to-day the Russian roads are comparatively few and bad. In
1812 it was infinitely worse. The few high-roads were frequently very
badly maintained; cross-roads of use for military purposes were almost

Finally, Russia was as undeveloped politically as economically. The
bulk of the peasantry were serfs chained to the soil. The accepted
method of enrolling them for the national defence was to call upon the
nobles, who owned the greater part of the land, for a levy of so many
per hundred or thousand souls. Their interests naturally induced them
to endeavour to retain the best and most industrious of their serfs,
and to furnish for the army the ill-conditioned or idle, as far as
possible. In a country in which corruption has always been rampant
the recruiting officials were doubtless amenable to the influence of
judicious bribery, and the actual result of a military levy was often
far less than it should have been. The slowness of communication, the
general poverty of the Government, the lack of factories of clothing,
arms and ammunition, added to the difficulty of rapidly and efficiently
increasing the armed strength. In 1812 Russia was suffering also from
an almost complete cessation of commerce, the result of the British
blockade of her coasts brought on by the alliance with Napoleon in
1807, and the financial difficulties were in consequence even greater
than usual.

The Russian army, since its organisation on European methods by Peter
the Great, has usually tended to be a rather crude and imperfect copy
of the most modern force of the time. In 1812 French ideas naturally
predominated, and their influence was apparent in many respects,
especially in the direction of the higher organisations.

Early in 1810, as already noted, General Barclay de Tolly became
Minister of War in Russia, and set himself earnestly, with the support
of the Emperor, to reorganise the army. Divided counsels near the Tzar,
and the adverse influence of the conditions above detailed, rendered
the execution of his plans slow and difficult. Nevertheless, a great
deal was effected, and whatever opinions may be held as to Barclay's
military ability there can be no doubt of his talent for organising.

In 1812 the Russian infantry comprised 6 regiments of Imperial Guards,
14 of Grenadiers, 50 of light infantry (Chasseurs), and 96 of the line.
Each regiment consisted of 3 4-company battalions with an establishment
of 764 officers and men per battalion in the Guards, and 738 in the
line. As a fact, only the Guard regiments were able to complete 3
field battalions. The strengths of the line regiments were so low
that Barclay could only complete 2 battalions of each regiment at the
expense of the third. One company of the third battalion was also
completed by drafts from the other three, and these companies combined
in threes or fours to form battalions of "combined grenadiers." There
then remained to each regiment a weak battalion of three depleted
companies. These were collected at various strategic centres as
"Reserve Divisions," and Barclay hoped to complete them with recruits.
He designed the formation of thirty-six depôts at suitable points, at
which new levies were to be trained into additional battalions and
squadrons for the infantry and cavalry regiments. In this respect,
however, there was not enough time for his judicious arrangements to
have much effect. In practice Russia was able to do little more than
maintain her field army at something like war strength. The third
battalions, reserves and new levies were chiefly absorbed in feeding
the fighting line.

A large proportion of the troops were by 1812 armed with a musket
of new model, about equal to that with which the French and British
infantry were furnished, but many still carried the older and clumsier
weapon which had been employed in 1807. The bullet was rather heavier
than that of the French infantry musket; but, judging from the fact
that the Russians usually appear to have had a higher proportion of
killed to wounded than their adversaries, it is probable that the
powder was often inferior.

The Russian cavalry included 6 Guard regiments--2 of Cuirassiers, 1 of
Dragoons, 1 of Hussars, 1 of Uhlans (Lancers) and 1 of Cossacks--each
of 4 field squadrons and 1 depôt squadron. The Cossack regiment
included a detachment of Orenburg Cossacks, and apparently had 5 or 6
field squadrons. The line cavalry comprised 8 regiments of Cuirassiers,
36 of Dragoons, each of 4 field squadrons and the depôt; 11 of
Hussars and 5 of Uhlans, each with 8 field and 2 depôt squadrons. The
establishment of a Guard squadron was 159 officers and men, that of a
line squadron 151. The cavalry was well and adequately mounted, much
better so than that of Napoleon. The men were less well trained than
their opponents, but, belonging to a country in which there is a horse
to every five or six human beings, were probably good horse masters.
Hay was the usual forage, and, to the surprise of Clausewitz, the
horses throve upon it. Accurate details of armament I have been unable
to procure, except that the line Cuirassiers were only protected on the
breast. Helmets and cuirasses were painted black, not polished--a very
sensible and labour-saving device.

The gradual inclusion in Russia of nomadic peoples and of the old
border moss-trooping or Cossack (really _Kazak_=freebooter) settlements
enabled the Government to supplement its forces by swarms of irregular
horsemen. Besides the Cossacks these were Crimean Tartars, Kalmuks and
Bashkirs--the latter still clothed in chain mail and armed with the
bow! In June there were perhaps 15,000 of them on the western frontier.
Their numbers later increased to 30,000 or more. Their reputation
rests largely upon the dread with which they inspired the demoralised
Napoleonic army during its retreat. In the field they could not contend
with regulars, and even during the retreat could never achieve anything
against such of the French infantry as kept its ranks. For guerilla
operations and for harassing the retreat they were invaluable.

In artillery Russian armies have usually been very strong. The
inefficiency of the mediæval Muscovite levies of horse and foot led
early to a remarkable and precocious development of the artillery arm.
Peter the Great in his reorganisation paid special attention to it, and
his crowning victory at Poltava was very largely due to his excellent
artillery. After Peter's reign his policy was continued, and Russia
owed many victories to the masses of well-served guns which accompanied
her armies.

In 1812 the Russian artillery of the line comprised 44 heavy, 58 light
and 22 horse-artillery batteries organised in 27 foot and 10 reserve
brigades, besides single horse artillery batteries attached to the
cavalry. There were also 29 depôt companies. The numbers of gunners and
drivers varied from an average of 240 for the heavy batteries to 160
for light artillery companies. They were each armed with 12 guns and
howitzers. Cossacks had their own horse batteries.

The artillery of the Guard comprised 2 heavy and 2 light batteries,
each of 16 guns and howitzers, and 2 horse artillery batteries of 8,
with establishments in proportion.

The armament consisted of 18-pounder (1/2-_púd_) howitzers and
12-pounder guns for the heavy batteries, 9-pounder howitzers and
6-pounder guns for the light artillery, and 6-pounders for the horse
batteries. The heavy ammunition waggons customary in other European
armies were not employed in Russia, their place being taken by a larger
number of light vehicles. The quality of the material appears generally
to have been excellent, though Sir R. Wilson and General Kutaïsov
recommended various improvements; and the draft horses were very
numerous and good. The Russian artillery continually performed feats of
transport that speak volumes for its high quality, and the number of
pieces abandoned or captured was extraordinarily small.

The technical troops were few in number and lacking both in scientific
officers and training. The medical department, though far better than
in 1807, when it was practically non-existent, was still terribly
inadequate and ill equipped, and trained physicians and surgeons were
very few.

There were 32 garrison regiments, 1 Guard garrison battalion, garrison
artillery, and pensioners.

A detailed statement of the Russian forces is given in Appendix C, but
of course all of these were not available. Immediately disposable to
meet the invasion there were:--

First Line

 First Army of the West            126,000
 Second  "          "               40,000
 Third   "          "               45,000
                                  -------  211,000

Second Line

 27th Infantry Division              7,500
 Reserve Troops and Riga Garrison   37,500
                                    ------  45,000
                Total                      256,000

To reinforce the fighting line there were brought up during the

 From Finland                       14,000
   "  the Turkish frontier          44,000
   "  the Crimea                     5,000
 Militia, Recruits, Cossacks, etc.  90,000
                                   ------  153,000
     Total actually employed               409,000

The last item can only be a very rough estimate. It is, however,
certain that the large figures given in some authorities bear no
proportion to the numbers of reinforcements which actually reached the
front. It is of course obvious that the entire armed strength of Russia
cannot be reckoned as opposed to Napoleon. The Asiatic, Caucasian and
Crimea troops could at best only furnish small detachments.

The First and Second Armies had received at the hands of Barclay a
fairly complete army-corps organisation, each corps containing two
infantry divisions, a brigade or division of cavalry, and two brigades
of artillery, with a battery of horse artillery attached to the
cavalry. The Third Army and the Army of the Danube were still organised
in the main on the old system of mixed divisions.

The characteristics of the Russian soldier have never varied. He
was and is endowed with remarkable endurance and courage, but is
comparatively unintelligent. In 1812 illiteracy was practically

The conditions of service were bad. The period was twenty-five years,
and brutal methods were often necessary to compel the recruits to leave
the homes which they would probably never see again. Life in the ranks
was hard, and only the fact that it was probably no harder than the
existence of the average peasant could have rendered it endurable.
The men were well clothed, for obvious reasons; but they were in
general ill-fed, ill-lodged, ill-cared-for, and practically unpaid.
The methods of maintaining discipline were brutal, and if in theory
military service meant emancipation from serfdom, in practice the men
were treated as slaves. It is all to their honour that they made and
make such good soldiers.

The great characteristic of Russian troops is their extraordinary
solidity and imperturbability under the most terrible punishment. A
Russian army hardly ever dissolves under the influence of defeat;
it must literally be battered to pieces. A good example of this was
afforded at Zorndorf in 1758, when Frederick the Great gained a Cadmean
success over a largely raw, badly trained and equipped, and ill-led
Russian army not greatly superior in number to his own. He nearly
destroyed both wings of the Russian host, but the centre stood firm,
rallied the survivors, fought doggedly until nightfall, and lumbered
defiantly away with some show of equality. The campaign of 1812 was to
afford further proof of these characteristics.

There is a tendency to regard the Russian soldiers as generally large
men, but there is abundant evidence that this was not the case. An
English observer, writing about 1854, describes them as usually
undersized, but they were doubtless hardy enough. The Guards were
picked men. The cavalry, artillery, light infantry and grenadiers
absorbed the best of the remaining recruits; the ordinary line
regiments, with very inadequate means, had to assimilate and train the
poorest of the available material.

The officers, as a class, were not capable of adequately training the
fine material at their disposal. There were honourable exceptions, but
at his best the Russian regimental officer was hardly the equal of
his opponent of corresponding rank, though often, perhaps, a better
linguist and a finer social figure. The Guards, as a whole, obtained
the best officers, and after them the pick went to the cavalry and
artillery, while the line infantry regiments were often very badly
off. The ordinary battalion and company leaders frequently lacked all
but the most elementary military instruction. Appointment and promotion
were too often due to Court favour, female influence or corruption.
The officers were, as a class, indolent. Too often they were not at
the head of their men; their private carriages or sledges swelled the
trains to enormous proportions, while the fighting line was weakened by
the numbers of men detailed for their service. Gambling and drunkenness
were very prevalent, and personal cowardice by no means uncommon, as
Duke Eugen of Württemberg and Löwenstern testify. It is fair to add
that defects such as these existed more or less in all armies of the
period, but the Russian army has always been badly or inadequately

In the higher ranks the conditions were not more satisfactory. There
was a superabundance of general officers, but their quality often left
much to be desired, and appointments were frequently due to other
causes than military efficiency. This was, it is true, not especially
the case in 1812. Alexander, presumably with the assistance of Barclay
de Tolly, seems to have made a very fair choice of corps commanders,
and several of the divisional leaders later acquired a well-deserved

The foreign officers were a most important element. Germany furnished
the largest contingent, but there were many French _émigrés_, as
the Duc de Richelieu, Langeron, and St. Priest, and at least one
Italian, the Marquis Paulucci. It may fairly be said of them that
their general intellectual and scientific level was higher than that
of the native officers. The latter were naturally bitterly jealous;
and the foreigners rarely receive justice at the hands of popular
Russian writers. It is humiliating to find even Tolstoï stooping to
perpetuate these jealousies and employing the term "German" in an
obviously contemptuous sense. Many of these foreigners did excellent
work for Russia in 1812--though it is true that Phull, perhaps the
most prominent of them, was an unpractical dreamer.

Mikhail Bogdanovich, Baron Barclay de Tolly, Minister of War and
Commander-in-Chief of the First Army of the West at the outbreak of
hostilities, was himself in some sense a foreigner, and seems to have
been regarded as one, much to his misfortune, by the ultra-Russian
officers. He was a Livonian by birth, and ultimately of Scottish
extraction, being descended from a member of the family of Barclay of
Towie, who had settled in Livonia in the seventeenth century. In 1812
General Barclay de Tolly was fifty-one years of age. His rise in the
army had at first been very slow, owing to his unassuming character and
to lack of influence; but his skill and courage as a divisional leader
in 1807 and 1809, especially displayed in his march across the frozen
Baltic in the latter year, had brought him to the front rank in the
Russian councils. His reorganisation of the Russian army in 1810-12
will probably constitute his best title to fame. The published Russian
documents bear emphatic witness to his industry, energy, and scientific
spirit. His deficiencies in high command are to be attributed partly
to inexperience in handling large masses of troops--an inexperience
which he shared with all but a very few contemporary leaders. He was
overburdened with work, being War Minister as well as general, and was
constantly harassed by the insubordination, sometimes verging upon
mutiny, of his assistants. His personal character stands very high.
Patriotism and devotion to duty were to him a religion; and he was one
of the few men in Russia who rose above narrowly patriotic views. His
scorn of personal profit and ease do him the highest honour, since they
were shared by few indeed of the men about him. Alexander's trust in
him never seems really to have faltered. The dreamy, romantic, crowned
knight-errant and the simple, devoted soldier of his country had indeed
much in common. Russia has had few sons to compare with Barclay de
Tolly; and it is not to her credit that his worth has been so little


General, War Minister, and Commander of the First Army of the West in

General Prince Peter Ivanovich Bagration, commander of the Second
Army of the West, was a man of different stamp. He was descended
from the Armenian royal line of the Bagratidae; and to his exalted
rank his rapid rise in the service was largely due. Though only
born in 1765, he was a major-general in 1795. At the same time
Bagration's abilities were considerable enough to have ensured his
rise under any circumstances. Suvórov had a high opinion of him; and
the great leader's judgment cannot be lightly set aside. Bagration
was essentially a fighter: his tactics were usually influenced by
his combative instincts; and his excitable temperament rendered
him reckless of his person. His impatient temper rendered him an
intractable colleague for the calm and methodical Barclay; and the
latter's courtesy and deference to the senior who had come under his
orders did not always relieve their strained relations. On the whole,
it would seem that Bagration possessed better strategic insight than
his comrade; but his tactical ideas were not always happy. Having
regard to his impetuosity, it was, perhaps, fortunate for Russia
that he was not, as his admirers wished, placed in supreme command.
But in pressing the French retreat his fiery energy would have been
invaluable; and from this point of view his death was a national
disaster. It is but due to his memory to say that he really appears
to have been a man of too high and noble a character to condescend
to wilful insubordination or intrigue; his intractability was the
outcome of temporary ill-temper, as were his occasional unjust remarks
concerning Barclay. Towards the end of their association relations
between the two chiefs improved; and, on one occasion at least
Bagration openly testified to his regard for Barclay.

General Count Alexander Petrovich Tormazov, the commander of the Third
Army of the West, does not appear to have been a man of any exceptional
ability. His early successes were due to numerical superiority; but he
then unduly dispersed his forces, and was in his turn overwhelmed. At
Gorodeczna he would probably have been destroyed but for the methodical
slowness of his opponents.

General Prince Mikhail Hilarionovich Golénischev-Kutuzov, who in August
became Commander-in-Chief of all the Russian armies in the field, was
a veteran of sixty-seven years, of which fifty-two had been spent in
arms. He was certainly a man of ability, both political and military;
and his practical experience of war was great, though largely acquired
in service against Polish _guerrillas_ and Turkish irregulars. Though
he had been nominal Commander-in-Chief at Austerlitz, his reputation
had scarcely suffered; for it was well known that he had exercised
practically no authority, which had been usurped by the young Tzar and
his confidants. That he could take advantage of his opponents' blunders
had been demonstrated at Dürrenstein in 1805, and on the Danube in
1811. But in 1812 Kutuzov was too old for the emergency; and wounds
and infirmity had diminished his bodily activity. Even in the Turkish
war this had been noticeable. As an ultra-Russian he was able to
command more loyal support than Barclay. His conduct of the battle of
Borodino was at least energetic, and his subsequent strategy sound; but
during the French retreat his lack of enterprise was evident. His last
campaign made him Field-Marshal and Prince of Smolensk, but can hardly
be said to have enhanced his reputation.



Commander-in-chief of the Russian Armies in 1812]

General Baron Levin Bennigsen, the stout antagonist of Napoleon in
1806-1807, was for a time Kutuzov's principal assistant; but the two
did not work well together, and eventually Bennigsen was retired.
Bennigsen, a Hanoverian soldier of fortune, was as old as Kutuzov,
but much more energetic. He appears to have been a selfish and jealous,
but able, man, and in the following year once more did Russia good
service. Barclay, according to Löwenstern, said of him, that despite
his ability, he was a "veritable pest" to the army, owing to his
egoism and envy; and this view is certainly borne out by a perusal of
Bennigsen's unreliable and self-laudatory memoirs.

General Matvei Ivanovich Platov, Ataman of the Cossacks of the Don, is
probably better known to British readers than any of his colleagues. He
was a burly, genial officer, uniting to considerable military talents
the daring and good-humour which were even more important in the eyes
of his wild followers. He was an ideal leader of irregulars; his
ceaseless activity and energy will presently be more apparent.

Admiral Pavel Vasilievich Chichagov, Commander-in-Chief of the Army
of the Danube, is a somewhat remarkable figure in Russian history. He
perhaps owed some of his characteristics to his frequent association
with Englishmen. He seems to have been somewhat impetuous and
excitable; and certainly possessed a very independent temper, not
hesitating to speak his mind to his despotic master. A seaman and
diplomatist, placed in command of a land army at a great crisis, it
would not have been strange had he failed badly, but this was far from
being the case. Once clear of the Turkish embroglio he brought his army
to the front with all speed; and though, as a general, too slow, he
carried out his operations with a steady pertinacity, refusing to be
diverted by contradictory orders. For Napoleon's escape at the Berezina
he was only very partially responsible; but the entire blame was laid
upon him by the hasty injustice of his countrymen, and his career
ended in voluntary exile many years later. It is not pleasant to find
his name still rancorously assailed. The Tzar Alexander II was of a
different opinion; one of the first ships of the Russian ironclad navy
was named _Chichagov_.

Of the advisers who surrounded and influenced--not always for his
good--the Tzar, the most prominent was the Prussian Phull. He had
occupied an important position on the Prussian staff in the fatal
year 1806, a fact which should surely have warned Alexander against
his counsels. Certainly none but the Tzar had any confidence in him,
and his utter lack of real military capacity was shown in the famous
project of the camp at Drissa.

Of the staff-officers the most notable were Major-General Alexei
Petrovich Yermólov and Colonel Baron Charles Toll. The former was an
extraordinary personality, who seems to have retained more barbarian
characteristics than any European military leader of modern times.
He was a man of great courage, considerable ability, and remarkable
will-power; but of a savage and unstable disposition. He could be
guilty of gross cruelty to prisoners of war, and later, as Viceroy of
the Caucasus, relied, as he admitted with cynical frankness, upon a
policy of indiscriminate massacre. Yet he was a kind and considerate
commander, beloved by his troops, and not ungenerous in his treatment
of subordinates. This treacherous side of his character would induce
him to intrigue against a rival, with whom he would then suddenly
become reconciled on some impulse of generosity. He intrigued against
Barclay, but wept bitterly when that ill-used chief left the army. It
may have been hypocrisy, as Löwenstern says; but it really has more
resemblance to one of those impulses which civilised men can hardly
understand, but which are characteristic of barbaric natures, such as
Yermólov's. Yermólov's policy of massacre failed to pacify Caucasia,
and his successor Paskievich declared it to have been a gross blunder.
Nevertheless, Yermólov has continued to this day to be the subject
of somewhat indiscriminate eulogy. It is perhaps better to take the
opinion of men who knew him. Barclay's was terse and to the point: "An
able man, but false and intriguing." Alexander's was pithy: "His heart
is as black as his boot." Clausewitz, who was little associated with
him, admitted his ability.

Toll was a scientific soldier of considerable attainments, and played a
distinguished part during the years 1812-1815.

Of the officers who, during the campaign, commanded detachments or army
corps several were men of real distinction.

General Mikhail Andreïevich Miloradovich--"the Russian Murat"--was
in charge of the advance-guard which pressed the French retreat. The
Russian documents show that he was hardly so much the mere swordsman
as Tolstoï would make him. Both in 1812 and 1813 Miloradovich
distinguished himself greatly, showing himself to be as admirable in
rear-guard command as he was in the leading of the pursuit.

Lieutenant-General Count Peter Wittgenstein, the German commander of
the 1st Army Corps, gained considerable renown by his independent
operations against Napoleon's left wing. In high command he always
failed; but as a corps commander he was equal to most of the French
marshals, and, though frequently rash and inconsiderate, was never
lacking in stubbornness and energy.

General Dmitri Sergeievich Dokhturov, commanding the 6th Corps, had
served with distinction as a divisional leader in 1805, 1806 and
1807; and reaped fresh laurels in 1812. His conduct before and during
the battle of Maloyaroslavetz reflected the highest credit upon him,
and may be said in effect to have sealed the fate of the retreating
Napoleonic host.

Lieutenant-General Nikolai Nikolaievich Raievski, the commander of
the 7th Corps, gained a reputation little inferior to that earned by
Dokhturov. During the critical days of August 14-16, when Napoleon
was executing his famous flank march on Smolensk, Raievski's ready
acceptance of responsibility and fine resolution ensured the defence
of the city, and gave Barclay and Bagration time to concentrate. His
action undoubtedly saved the Russians from severe defeat, if not,
indeed, from crushing and irretrievable disaster.

Lieutenant-General von der Osten-Sacken, commanding the reserves of
the Third Army, was detailed by Admiral Chichagov to guard his rear
against Schwarzenberg in November, while he himself marched to hold the
crossings of the Berezina. He executed his task with unfailing courage
and energy, though opposed to greatly superior numbers. Though an
elderly man, his fighting energy was great. In the two following years
he added to his reputation as a dauntless and hard-fighting commander.

None of the other Russian corps commanders was accorded the opportunity
of rendering such eminent service as these three; but none, whatever
his other defects, showed himself deficient at need in that
stubbornness which was probably the most necessary of all qualities
when opposed to Napoleon.

Nor can any serious fault be found with the majority of the divisional
commanders. Conspicuous among them were Konovnitzin, Neverovski, and
the young Prince Eugen of Württemberg, who next year gained a great
reputation as chief of the 2nd Corps. Among those who later rose
to the highest rank may be mentioned Voronzov, a brave, capable,
and altogether estimable man, the hero of the terrific struggle on
the plateau of Craonne in 1814, and thirty years later Viceroy of
the Caucasus. Also, in command of one of Raievski's divisions was a
difficult-tempered, vain, and jealous young major-general, who in
after years was to achieve a European renown--Paskievich, presently to
be Field-Marshal Paskievich of Erivan and Prince of Warsaw. Another
prominent figure was that of the youthful Major-General Count Kutaïsov,
who commanded the artillery of Barclay's army. Though only twenty-eight
years of age, he does not appear to have been unfitted for his post;
all who came in contact with him bear witness to his tireless energy.
Certainly the Russian losses in artillery were very slight, and to
Kutaïsov must part at least of the credit be given. He ended his
brief and brilliant career on the field of Borodino while leading a
successful counter-attack.

Of the Russian army as a whole it is to be said that there were
too many generals entitled by their rank to high command, and whom
it was deemed necessary to placate by giving them commands. At
Borodino, besides the general officers on the staffs of Barclay and
Bagration, Bennigsen was present as Chief-of-Staff of all the Russian
armies; Konovnitzin was "general of service," and there were others.
Miloradovich commanded two army corps under Barclay, and General
Gorchakov was also on the field in a somewhat undefined capacity--all
these in addition to the Commander-in-Chief and the leaders of the two
armies. Most of them were useless on the field, for Barclay, Bagration,
and Kutuzov naturally sent orders direct to the corps and divisional
commanders. In 1813 matters were even worse. In order to employ as many
as possible of the ambitious general officers a practice was adopted
of combining corps in pairs. In this fashion a force of about 35,000
men was burdened with more than thirty generals and three distinct
staffs! In 1812 the confusion at head-quarters, owing to the presence
of unattached generals or relatives of the Tzar, was often great, and
that disaster did not ensue was more than once due to something like
sheer good fortune. Alexander also committed what might have been a
fatal error in not giving one general precedence over another when
acting together. Barclay and Bagration often found it hard to agree;
and though Chichagov and Tormazov, and, apparently, Wittgenstein and
Steingell, succeeded in working together, it was fortunate that trouble
did not arise.



The Russian frontier in 1812, from the Black Sea to where the River Bug
issues from Galicia, was practically as it is to-day. The ten Polish
Governments, however, then formed the greater part of the Grand Duchy
of Warsaw: the border therefore stopped short at the Bug and the lower
Niemen below Grodno. The Niemen, rising near the city of Minsk, flows
roughly westward for about 150 miles to Grodno, thence about 80 miles
northward to Kovno, and then some 110 miles westward into the Kurisches
Haff. From Grodno to Kovno the channel is deeply sunk and difficult to
cross. There were in 1812 bridges at Grodno and Tilsit; but at Kovno
the Königsberg-Vilna high-road was served only by a ferry. For the last
60 miles of its course the Niemen is in Prussian territory. It thus
became extremely important for Napoleon as soon as he had occupied its
right bank. He had already collected a large flotilla of gunboats and
barges, under Rear-Admiral Baste, in the ports of the Frisches and
Kurisches Haffs, and was able therefore to bring immense quantities of
supplies from his advanced depôts to Kovno and thence to Vilna.

For about 100 miles south-westward from Grodno there was no natural
frontier; thence to the Austrian border it was formed by the Bug,
which, issuing from Galicia below the town of Sokal, flows northward
for some 110 miles to Brest-Litovsk, and then north-westward for 70
miles more to what was in 1812 the Polish border. For nearly 100 miles
near Brest-Litovsk the Pinsk Marshes close in upon the river. The
Austro-Russian border need not be considered, for it was neutralised;
Schwarzenberg operated only as an auxiliary, in Poland. Trade continued
as usual, and when Admiral Chichagov's army passed close along the
frontier on its way to attack Schwarzenberg it was not molested by
Russia's nominal enemies.

The first provinces on the right bank of the Niemen entered by the
_Grand Armée_ were Courland to the north and the various districts
which had once formed the Grand Duchy of Lithuania to the southward.
Lithuania was and is a region of woods and marshy plain land, broken
in places, and intersected in every direction by streams flowing in
deeply sunken channels. In the south there stretched inland from the
Bug the famous marshes of Pinsk, one of the largest tracts of fenland
in the world, extending as it does for some 300 miles east and west, by
over 100 north and south. The soil, even when not actually swampy, was
generally soft, and there were hardly any good roads. Towns were few;
the population was sparse and wretchedly poor.

At distances varying from about 120 to over 300 miles eastward of the
Bug and Niemen a second natural line is formed by the Düna and the
Dnieper. The Düna rises near the Volga, flows roughly south-west to
Vitebsk, there turns west-north-west and runs for nearly 300 miles to
the Baltic at Riga. Above Vitebsk it is fairly often fordable during
the summer heats. In 1812 it was bridged at Vitebsk and Dünaburg,
half-way to Riga, but, since the left bank is generally higher than the
right between these places, the river does not afford a good line of

From the Düna at Vitebsk southward to the Dnieper at Orsha is a gap
of about 45 miles. At Orsha the Dnieper, one of the great rivers of
Europe, turns to the southward, to flow for 800 miles into the Black
Sea. Seventy miles above Orsha is Smolensk, where in 1812 there was a
bridge. At Mohilev, 50 miles below Orsha, there was another. The river
is rarely fordable even during the summer. Its tributary the Berezina,
which was a most important strategic feature in the campaign, flows
towards it on the east at an acute angle for 200 miles, joining at a
point nearly due east of Warsaw and west of Orel. In 1812 there were
bridges at Borisov and Bobruisk, but in general the river is fordable
in summer. The right bank is usually higher than the left.

Napoleon's advanced bases were the places on the Vistula, especially
Danzig and Warsaw--though Danzig was infinitely the most important. The
road from Danzig to the frontier divided at Wehlau; the left branch
going by Tilsit through Courland to Mitau and Riga, and thence to
St. Petersburg; the right by Insterburg and Gumbinnen to the Niemen
at Kovno, thence by Vilna, Ochmiana, Minsk, Borisov and Orsha, to
Smolensk. From Mitau and Riga two roads converged on Jakobstädt, and
then passed along the right bank of the Düna, by Dünaburg, Drissa,
Desna and Polotsk, to Vitebsk, whence two or three roads led to
Smolensk. From Polotsk and Smolensk ran roads north-westward to St.

From Vilna a road led by Sventsiani and Glubokoie to Desna and Polotsk.
From near Sventsiani a branch went to Dünaburg, and from Glubokoie
another fork led by Lepel and Bechenkowiczi to Vitebsk. Cross-roads
connected Vitebsk with Orsha, and Lepel with the Smolensk-Minsk
road, half-way from Orsha to Bobr. From Orsha the main road to Kiev
ran down the right bank of the Dnieper through Mohilev and Staroi
Bykhov. From Bobr another road led to Bobruisk and thence into the
Orsha-Mohilev-Kiev highway. A third road went from Bobruisk to Minsk by
way of Igumen.

The road eastward from Warsaw forked some 30 miles out, separating into
two branches, which united again at Novi Svergen, 250 miles farther
on. The southern branch proceeded by Brest-Litovsk, Slonim and Nesvizh;
the northern one passed by Bielsk, Bielostok, Grodno and Novogrodek.
From Novi Svergen the road ran nearly north-eastward to Minsk, about
60 miles farther on. From Brest-Litovsk a road branched off to Lutsk,
through the Pinsk Marshes. At Kobrin, some 30 miles farther on, a road
pierced the marshes eastward, turning to the right about 30 miles short
of Pinsk, and eventually coming out in the direction of Lutsk and
Ostrog. A branch connected Pinsk with this road, and from Pinsk another
highway led through the fens northward to Nesvizh. From Slonim a road
led northward to Vilna, intersecting the Grodno road about a third of
the way out, and another cross-road connected the two Warsaw roads,
east of Grodno, by way of Volkovisk. Finally a road led from Nesvizh by
Slutsk to Bobruisk, and from the latter place another passed through
the eastern end of the Pinsk fens by Mozyr-on-Pripet to Kiev. There
were, of course, many minor roads or tracks, but these were practically
all that could be used for military purposes, and most of them were
inferior. From Smolensk eastward the road system became, so far as the
campaign was concerned, very simple, consisting merely of a single
trunk leading to Moscow.

Russian high-roads are commonly of considerable breadth, so that it was
possible for vehicles to move upon them several abreast. Both armies,
however, were so encumbered by immense trains that their columns
covered enormous lengths of road.

With the exception of Moscow, Warsaw and Riga, there were no large
towns, in the modern sense of the word, within the theatre of war,
and even Riga can scarcely be regarded as one. Moscow had somewhat
over 200,000 inhabitants, Warsaw about half as many. Vilna, Grodno,
Minsk, Vitebsk and Smolensk had each from 20,000 to 30,000 inhabitants;
Kovno, Dünaburg, Mitau, Brest-Litovsk, Bielostok, Mohilev and Bobruisk
perhaps from 15,000 to 20,000; Polotsk possibly 15,000. Borisov,
Orsha, Bobr, Smorgoni and many other places described as towns were
merely villages--not often large villages, according to modern ideas.
From Moscow to Smolensk, a distance of over 250 English miles, there
were only three small towns,--Viasma, Gzhatsk and Dorogobuzh--and the
largest of these had but about 5000 inhabitants.

While Napoleon was inspecting his depôts, completing the organisation
of his water transport, and setting in train the formation and pushing
to the front of his numerous reserve forces, the Grand Army, now
practically secure from Russian attack, was moving up to the Niemen.
By the 12th of June the advance-guard of the 10th Corps was at Tilsit,
and the Imperial Guard and five army corps, besides three corps of
the cavalry reserves, were steadily advancing behind towards the line
of the Niemen between Tilsit and Kovno. The 5th and 8th Corps were in
advance of Warsaw, and the 7th a little way in rear of it. The Emperor
still expected that Bagration would invade the Grand Duchy, for on
June 10th he wrote to Eugène on that hypothesis. He also appears to
have anticipated that Bagration's advance would be supported by at
least a part of Barclay's army. At all events he speaks of a possible
attack upon Eugène, which indicates that he looked for something like a
general encounter along his whole front.

He explained to Eugène that his echelon formation, with the left in
advance, would enable him to take in flank the attack of the Russians
directed against his right or centre. If Jerome were attacked, Eugène
with the 4th and 6th Corps would be able to fall on the flank of the
hostile columns, while if Eugène himself were assailed he could be
supported at need by the whole left wing. All this certainly appears to
point to the idea of a general Russian advance. Whether the somewhat
complicated manoeuvres anticipated by the Emperor took sufficiently
into account the inexperience of Eugène and Jerome, and the frightful
Polish tracks by which they would be obliged to move, may be doubted.
Moreover, it is clear that their successful execution depended upon the
Russian generals being so obliging as to play into Napoleon's hands.
The armies, it must be remembered, were not yet in touch, and the
Russians had perfect freedom to manoeuvre at will.

By June 18th Napoleon had about 320,000 men (Imperial Guard, 1st, 2nd,
3rd, 4th, 6th and 10th _Corps d'Armée_, and 1st, 2nd and 3rd Reserve
Cavalry Corps) concentrated on a front of about 130 miles from Tilsit
south-westward to the Prusso-Polish frontier. Thence to Warsaw stood
the 5th, 7th and 8th Corps and the 4th Cavalry Corps--80,000 men on a
line of 80 miles. Finally, the Austrians, 34,000 strong, constituted
the detached right flank-guard, marching from Zamosc by Lublin on Warsaw.

Total 434,000 combatants, 1076 guns.

The Russians were cantoned as follows: The First Army was strategically
disposed in a main body, a reserve, and two semi-independent wings. The
1st Corps (Wittgenstein) constituted the right wing, about Rossieni,
some 100 miles north-west of Vilna, and nearly opposite to Napoleon's
detached left flank-guard, under Macdonald, at Tilsit. About Lida,
60 miles south of Vilna, on the road to Slonim, stood the 6th Corps
(Dokhturov) and the 3rd Cavalry Corps (Pahlen II), forming the left
wing, under Dokhturov. The 2nd Corps (Baggohufwudt), the 3rd (Tuchkov
I) and the 4th (Shuvalov) were guarding the line of the Niemen above
and below Kovno, on a front of about 60 miles. The 1st Cavalry Corps
(Uvarov) was at Vilkomirz, 40 miles north-north-west of Vilna, and the
2nd (Korff) at Smorgoni, nearly 50 miles on the road to Minsk. The 5th
Corps (H.I.H. the Grand Duke Constantine) formed the general reserve
at Sventsiani, about 45 miles north-east of Vilna. The "Flying Corps"
of Cossacks under the Ataman Platov was pushed forward to the frontier
about Grodno, 60 miles west of Lida. The First Army, including Platov,
numbered some 126,000 men, including 19,000 regular cavalry and 584

Of the two army corps which composed the Second Army the 8th (Borozdin
I) was at Volkovisk, 60 miles south-south-west of Lida, and the 7th
(Raievski) at Novi Dvor, 20 miles farther south. The 4th Cavalry Corps
(Sievers), and about 4000 Cossacks, under General Ilovaïski, connected
the two. The newly formed 27th Division (Neverovski) which was marching
from Moscow to join Bagration, had not yet passed Minsk. Including it
the Second Army comprised about 47,000 men, including 7000 regular
cavalry, and 168 guns.

The Third Army was widely dispersed and could not take the field for
some weeks. It numbered in all perhaps 45,000 men.

Thus, owing to various causes--divided counsels, imperfect
organisation, bad roads and especially the lack of any real
command-in-chief--the Russian forces were, almost up to the very
moment of hostile contact, in a state of dangerous dispersion. The
secret history of the months during which Alexander had been at Vilna
will probably never be accurately known. Dissension and intrigue were
rampant in the Tzar's personal _entourage_. Much valuable time was
wasted in drafting and discussing plans of action, all impracticable,
because based upon hypotheses which proved untenable. They all
considerably underestimated Napoleon's fighting strength, and appear
to have assumed a concentration of the Russian forces about Vilna.
There was great disorder in the higher commands. Barclay was nominally
commander-in-chief, but Alexander frequently issued orders, through his
adjutant, Prince Volkonski, over the head of the harassed War-Minister,
while to make confusion worse confounded Phull, as Clausewitz
expresses it, "sometimes put in _his_ oar." Contrary to the usually
accepted belief, it appears that Barclay would have preferred to stand
to fight, granted a favourable opportunity. The deciding factor in the
situation seems to have been that almost at the last moment the Russian
staff obtained better information as to the strength which Napoleon had
with him in Prussia.

At all events the party of prudence finally obtained the upper hand
in the Tzar's councils. The policy of retreating before the invader
had been so often discussed that there was nothing unexpected in the
resolution which was adopted. It was determined to draw back the whole
First Army at least as far as Sventsiani. All the corps commanders
were warned to be ready to retreat thither immediately upon receiving
orders, except Wittgenstein, who was given permission to anticipate
them if pressed by a rapid advance of Napoleon's extreme left wing
over the Niemen. Platov, it was vaguely supposed, would be able to
threaten Napoleon's communications, and would be supported by Bagration
from Volkovisk. Tormazov, with the Third Army, was to retreat on
Kiev if hard pressed; but, if not, was to leave General Sacken with
his incomplete division to observe the Austrian frontier, and with
the rest of his army to fall upon the right of the forces which were
opposed to Bagration. General Okunev, in his commentaries upon the war,
suggests that Bagration and Tormazov should have effected a junction
and advanced in force against Napoleon's communications while he was
engaged in front with Barclay. As, however, Napoleon could detach
80,000 men, under Eugène, to support the 114,000 whom he already had
in the Grand Duchy, Bagration, Tormazov and Platov would eventually be
outnumbered by at least two to one; while Napoleon would still have
possessed a double superiority of numbers over Barclay. In fact the
Russians were so enormously outmatched at every point that retreat
was the only sensible strategy. Napoleon, it is true, assumed that
the Russians would stand to fight. This was partly, no doubt, due
to mistaken but not unreasonable calculations as to their state of
preparation, but also largely, it is to be feared, to the obstinate
optimism which during his latter years became something like an acute
mental disease with him. He had developed a fatal habit of believing
that his enemies would always play into his hands.

Accordingly, still proceeding on the assumption that Bagration would
invade the Grand Duchy of Warsaw, while Barclay stood fast to oppose
his own advance upon Vilna, the French Emperor decided to operate the
passage of the Niemen close to Kovno. Kovno lies at the confluence
of the Vilia, the river of Vilna, with the Niemen, and was therefore
admirably adapted for the collection of stores by water from Danzig
and Königsberg, and forwarding them to Vilna as soon as that place and
the surrounding country were in Napoleon's power. In point of fact
the Vilia proved too sinuous and difficult to be of much utility,
but this could hardly be known at the time, and in any case did not
greatly affect the value of Kovno as a base. The forest of Pilwiski
or Wilkowiski, extending over a considerable area on the bank of the
river opposite Kovno, furnished an excellent screen for Napoleon's
operations. Finally, by bridging the river and debouching rapidly in
the direction of Vilna, Barclay might be separated from his detached
right wing under Wittgenstein. All this obviously assumed that the
Russians would remain stationary.

On June 22nd Jerome was directed to be at Augustowo on the 25th. On
that day his three corps were extended along the Warsaw-Augustowo
road, and the head of the 5th Corps, which was leading, was nearly
50 miles away. The 8th was still farther behind, and the 7th as yet
in the neighbourhood of Warsaw, awaiting the Austrians, who were
slowly advancing from Lublin. Napoleon was probably misinformed as
to distances, and certainly had not taken into full consideration
the wretched Polish roads. He apparently calculated upon being able
to throw his main body suddenly across the Niemen at Kovno, deal a
smashing blow at Barclay and then wheel round to crush Bagration.

Fortunately for the Russians they had now decided to do the right
thing, and had no intention of awaiting their enemies' pleasure. The
three corps on the Niemen were drawn back to Vilna, leaving only a
light cavalry screen along the right bank. Wittgenstein retired from
Rossieni to Keidani, 40 miles nearer Vilna. On June 23rd, therefore,
Barclay had four corps echeloned on a line of 70 miles, nearly two
marches from the Niemen at its nearest point; and, as all were ready
to retreat on Sventsiani at the shortest notice, Napoleon's plans were
already half disconcerted. Irresolution, however, clung to the Russian
counsels, and Dokhturov was still left in a dangerously isolated
position at Lida.

On the 22nd Napoleon, being himself at Wilkowiski, about 40 miles from
Kovno, drafted a proclamation to the army which may be regarded as
the official declaration of war. It was of the usual Napoleonic type,
chiefly compounded of false statements and prophecies which were never
fulfilled. Mr. Hereford George is probably correct in pronouncing that
"a more unfortunate document was perhaps never penned."

On the afternoon of the 23rd Napoleon had under his hand opposite Kovno
in the Pilwiski Forest some 214,000 men, comprising the Imperial Guard,
the reserve parks and engineers, the 1st, 2nd and 3rd _Corps d'Armée_,
and the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Corps of Reserve Cavalry. At Tilsit, in line
with the main body, was the 10th Corps, under Macdonald. Eugène, with
the 4th and 6th Corps, was still some 60 miles to the right rear, and
could hardly reach the Niemen near Kovno before the 28th. General
Bonnal appears to consider that his absence materially contributed to
the failure of the Emperor's strategy, but it is a little difficult
entirely to agree with him. Even had the situation been as Napoleon
imagined it, with the Russians extended in a long, thin line upon
the frontier, Eugène's absence could not have fatally influenced
results. The invaders, with their overwhelming numerical superiority,
could not fail of success. Without Eugène Napoleon had 247,000 men in
all opposed to Barclay's 120,000. Bagration could hardly under any
circumstances have gained more than a temporary success over the head
of the long column of divisions marching from Lublin to Augustowo,
and as yet not disquieted by Tormazov on its rear. Given that Reynier
and Schwarzenberg were forced to turn back to face Tormazov--as did
ultimately happen--Jerome would still have over 60,000 regulars against
Bagration's 36,000; and Eugène's retardation would place him in a
favourable position for supporting him. It is even permissible to
argue that Eugène's absence was rather a favourable circumstance than
otherwise, since the knowledge that Napoleon was short of over 70,000
men might have induced Barclay to stand to give battle, which was
precisely what Napoleon desired.

As a fact the situation was quite other than Napoleon envisaged it. Had
all his corps been in position to time, the manoeuvre of Vilna would
still have failed. Had Jerome, with his whole force, reached Augustowo
on the 25th June, as contemplated, he could not have reached Grodno
before the 27th. Volkovisk is nearly 50 miles farther on, and Bagration
evacuated it on the 28th to retreat on Minsk. It was absolutely
impossible for Jerome to reach him. Of Barclay's corps, the 1st was
nearly two days' march from the Niemen, and Wittgenstein had permission
to retreat as soon as he had information of the French passage of the
river. Baggohufwudt, Tuchkov and Shuvalov were still farther back, out
of touch with the French, who could not reach them in less than two
forced marches, even if they stood fast. Dokhturov alone was somewhat
isolated, and ran considerable risk of being cut off from the main
body. Still even had Dokhturov been cut from Barclay it is highly
probable that the course of events would have been little different.
A junction of the two Armies of the West would have eventually been
effected, and it is possible that Barclay, short of 20,000 men, would
not have made, as he did, at least one very perilous halt on his march
to Smolensk.

To conclude, when once the Russian commanders had determined to adopt
a policy of steady retreat, and to adhere to it with more or less
resolution, the campaign may almost be said to have decided itself.
Napoleon was ever striving to obtain contact with his elusive foes and
to fight the great battle which should crush the heart out of their
resistance. But only thrice all through the advance was he able to
establish this contact, and in each case the Russians drew away without
having sustained decisive defeat. The first operations on the Niemen
were typical of most of those which were to follow.

On June 23rd all the troops under Napoleon's immediate command were
nearly opposite Kovno. Napoleon gave the strictest orders that only
light cavalry were to approach the river; infantry, artillery and heavy
cavalry were to be kept under cover in the forest, so as to conceal
from the enemy until the last moment the exact direction in which the
blow was to be dealt. Meanwhile the river was reconnoitred for a point
of passage, and a bend between Kovno and the village of Poniemon, a
little higher up, was selected by General Haxo, Davout's chief of

At daybreak on the 23rd Napoleon in person arrived in his travelling
carriage at the bivouacs of the 1st Cavalry Corps. He descended at that
of the 6th Polish Lancers, and, still anxious to conceal everything
from the Russians until the last moment, removed his famous Guard
uniform and cocked hat, and donned the coat of a Polish officer--an
example followed by the staff-officers with him. Count Soltyk, an
officer of the Lancers, has minutely described the episode. Napoleon's
strong common sense appears in his refusal of the heavy Polish cavalry
shako, and acceptance of a cap instead. He then rode forward to a
village directly opposite Kovno, and carefully reconnoitred the place
from the windows of the house of the village doctor. Returning to the
Lancers' bivouac, he made a hasty meal, chatting meanwhile with the
Polish officers, and especially asking if their uniform suited him. He
then resumed his own garments and rode off to reconnoitre the course
of the river elsewhere. He approved Haxo's selection of Poniemon, and
issued elaborate orders for the passage. They obviously imply that
vigorous resistance was anticipated; nothing was yet known of the
Russian retirement on Vilna. They also contain much minute regulation
of detail, which might well have been left to Haxo or Davout.

During the afternoon and evening the 1st Corps was brought up to
Poniemon, whither the pontoon trains, under General Eblé, were also
despatched. Three bridges, about 300 yards apart, were to be thrown
across. As soon as it was completely dark--that is to say, about 10
p.m.--General Morand, the commander of the 1st Division, crossed
in person with three companies of Voltigeurs and one of Sappers,
who were ferried over in boats. As they were disembarking they were
detected by the nearest Russian picket--a detachment of the Hussars
of Yelisabetgrad. They rode up to the mustering Voltigeurs, and their
leader challenged in French: "Qui vive?"

"France!" came the reply.

"What do you do here?" asked the Russian officer.

"You'll soon see!" was the answer; and the bold officer turned rein,
to report to his superiors that the long-expected invasion had begun
at last. His troopers emptied their carbines in the direction of the
French party as they rode away, but apparently without effect; and the
Voltigeurs did not reply, Napoleon having issued orders that there was
to be no firing except in case of extreme necessity. The bridges were
completed by about 1 a.m. on the 24th, and Davout's corps began to
defile across. There was no resistance; the only approach to fighting
consisted in the interchange of a few shots between the advanced French
troops and the rear-guards of the retreating Russian cavalry regiments.
The day broke as the passage was in progress: it continued practically
without intermission all through the 24th and 25th. As a military
spectacle it has, perhaps, never been surpassed; but the ease with
which it had been effected was probably by no means entirely pleasing
to Napoleon. He must have been unpleasantly conscious that the Russians
had no intention of delivering themselves into his hands, though he
probably hoped that they would stand to fight in advance of Vilna.

In the morning of the 24th Davout's 1st Light Cavalry Brigade, under
Pajol, occupied Kovno, expelling the Cossack squadron which was the
only garrison; and in the afternoon Napoleon himself transferred
his head-quarters thither. He ordered a permanent pile bridge to be
constructed at the ferry, and threw another bridge over the Vilia, just
above its confluence with the Niemen.

The news of the invasion reached Alexander the same evening while he
was at a garden party at General Bennigsen's mansion near Vilna. Next
day he announced it to his army in a proclamation, and to the nation
at large in another, addressed to Marshal Saltikov, Military Governor
of St. Petersburg. The tone of both was worthy of the occasion, and
contrasted strongly with the arrogant and theatrical ring of that of

Orders were issued to all the corps commanders to retreat on
Sventsiani. It was recognised that Platov alone could hardly achieve
any serious damage to Napoleon's communications, and he also was
directed to retire on Sventsiani by way of Lida and Smorgoni. Bagration
was warned not to allow himself to be cut from Minsk. All the orders
reached their destination safely, except those to Major-General
Dorokhov who, with the advance-guard of the 4th Corps, was at Orani,
south-west of Vilna. The 3rd and 4th Corps retired leisurely to the
suburbs of Vilna, which Barclay did not intend to evacuate until it
became absolutely necessary.

By the evening of the 25th the whole French army was over the Niemen
and pushing forward to Vilna. Murat opened the march with the 1st and
2nd Cavalry Corps. Behind were the 1st and 3rd Corps, the 3rd Cavalry
Corps, and the Imperial Guard, while the 2nd Corps had crossed the
Vilia at Kovno and was marching along its right bank, thus forming
the flank-guard of the advance on Vilna, and threatening to cut off
Wittgenstein towards Keidani. Davout and Ney had each detailed a
foreign regiment to guard Kovno and the bridges. The 10th Corps was
ordered to advance from Tilsit upon Rossieni, sweeping the right bank
of the Niemen, and thus clearing the course of the river for Baste's
supply flotillas, which were now collecting at Tilsit, whence they were
pushed forward to Kovno.

There was practically no fighting on the march to Vilna. The thin
chain of Russian cavalry posts steadily retired as the French pressed
forward: only a few shots were fired from time to time. Napoleon hoped
for a battle at Vilna and the troops made forced marches day after
day to attain the desired end, at great cost to themselves, for the
weather was sultry, the roads were bad, and the provision trains were
already falling to the rear. The men began to leave the ranks in order
to forage for supplies, and the horses, ill-fed and over-worked, broke
down and died in great numbers. Even the artillery was ill-horsed from
the first, and the officers were forced to scour the country for draft
animals, often with very little success. Barclay was in position before
Vilna with the 3rd Corps and most of the 4th, and Baggohufwudt was in
touch to the north; but Alexander and his suite had already left for
Sventsiani, and Barclay was merely waiting until the French began to
close. The stores which could not be carried off were destroyed, and
at 4 a.m. on the 28th the 3rd and 4th Corps began to defile through
the town. Barclay and his staff left about 1 p.m.; and the rear-guard
followed, burning the bridge over the Vilia. Bruyère's cavalry
division, which was heading the French advance, came through the town
before Barclay's cavalry rear-guard was quite clear of the suburbs; and
its leading regiment, the 8th Hussars, was charged and driven back,
with the loss of several prisoners, by the Cossacks of the Imperial
Guard. The Russian columns were well on their way to Sventsiani, and
after three days of forced marching in tropical weather the French
impulse had expended its force.

On the same day a more serious skirmish took place near Vilkomirz.
Wittgenstein, falling back from Keidani, heard that Oudinot was
marching up the right bank of the Vilia and, fearing that he might be
anticipated at Vilkomirz, stationed his rear-guard, under Major-General
Kulnev (4 battalions, 4 squadrons, 1 Cossack regiment and 6 guns), on
the 27th at Develtova, requesting General Uvarov to support him with a
regiment of Dragoons. Meanwhile the 1st Corps defiled through Vilkomirz
on the Sventsiani road. As Kulnev, in his turn, was retiring through
the place from Develtova, he was attacked by Castex with Oudinot's
advanced guard. The French cavalry charged the Russian Hussars and
Cossacks and drove them into the town with considerable loss, but
Kulnev succeeded in withdrawing his force across the Vilia, and burnt
the bridge, and Castex could only cannonade the Russians until the
arrival of infantry. Uvarov's cavalry regiment, marching rather
carelessly to join Kulnev along the river-bank, came under artillery
fire and lost several men and horses. When Oudinot's infantry began to
arrive Kulnev followed his chief. He had lost about 300 men, including
240 prisoners. Oudinot reported a loss of 50 killed and wounded. The
2nd Corps occupied Vilkomirz, and bivouacked for the night some 2 miles
on the Sventsiani road.

Napoleon himself entered Vilna in the afternoon of the 28th. Alexander
had sent his aide-de-camp, General Balashov, with a final message to
his opponent, offering to reopen negotiations if the French troops
withdrew across the Niemen. Napoleon, with his usual dramatic instinct,
received Balashov in the quarters which Alexander had lately quitted.
Needless to say, nothing came of the interview. Napoleon regarded the
message as an insult, or at best as an attempt to gain time. He merely
wrote a long letter to Alexander repeating all his real or imagined
grounds for the war. Danilevski says that Balashov was directed to tell
Napoleon that if he declined to listen to Alexander's last overtures
he must expect war to the death. It is also said that Napoleon asked
questions concerning the roads to Moscow. Balashov replied that there
were several, and His Majesty might do as other monarchs had done, and
choose. Charles XII, for example, had taken the road that led by way of

Napoleon had, in fact, little reason for satisfaction. He had, as he
hoped, debouched suddenly into the midst of his opponent's line of
defence; he had collected enormous forces upon his chosen point of
attack, and had carefully concealed it until the last moment. His
troops had made tremendous exertions to carry out his strategy. And
yet hardly anything had in reality been achieved. He was in possession
of his enemy's empty head-quarters, and that was all. His army had
suffered severely in the impetuous rush upon Vilna, while that of
Russia had quietly withdrawn out of his reach. The carefully planned
blow, which was to have been crushing, had been wasted upon the empty

On the 29th there was a violent thunderstorm, followed by five days
of continuous rain. The results were most disastrous. Movements of
troops, though much impeded, were not absolutely checked; but the
vast trains on the Vilna-Kovno road were entirely disorganised. The
bad roads and tracks became little better than quagmires. The horses
broke down completely under the additional strain, especially since the
country could supply very little fodder to replace that left behind
in abandoned vehicles. The defects of the transport became evident.
The waggons were too heavy for the bad Polish roads, and in order to
forward any supplies at all they had to be replaced by country carts,
which were only capable of carrying much smaller loads. The natural
consequences were a shortage of food supplies, and much marauding in
quest of them. The Lithuanians, whom the French were supposed to be
freeing from the Russian yoke, were maltreated and plundered everywhere
by their so-called deliverers. Requisitions, however unsparing,
entirely failed to re-establish the wrecked transport. The army was so
huge, its encumbrances so enormous, that the poverty-stricken country
could not supply the number of draft animals needed. The artillery
alone left 120 guns or more and hundreds of waggons at Vilna owing to
lack of horses. The number of the latter lost may be conservatively
estimated at 10,000; and some 30,000 soldiers were straggling about the
country, marauding for food and committing every kind of outrage.

Napoleon himself remained in Vilna for over a fortnight. The 4th and
6th Corps had only just reached the Niemen, and it was absolutely
necessary to bring up to the front the magazines from Königsberg.
He also wished to organise Lithuania, or rather to exploit it. A
provisional government of French partisans was set up at Vilna;
garrisons were distributed; and officials placed over the various towns
and districts. The first act of the Government was to order levies
of horse and foot for Napoleon's service; one cavalry regiment was
to consist entirely of Lithuanian squires, and to be attached to the
Imperial Guard. Otherwise the Government could exercise practically no
civil functions; its duties were simply such as arose from the military
occupation of the country. The peasants were reduced to abject misery
by endless requisitions, and by the lawless violence of the stragglers
who swarmed everywhere. The French _sous-préfet_ of Novi Troki, a
place less than 20 miles from Vilna, was plundered and stripped by
marauding soldiers on his way thither, and if such an event could take
place within a day's march of Napoleon's head-quarters, the state of
affairs farther afield may be imagined. Napoleon's stringent orders
against pillage and disorder were little better than useless. The
pillage arose simply from lack of food, and the latter was the natural
outcome of the fact that the expedition was too large to work in the
existing conditions. Napoleon had taken immense pains to organise it,
and up to a point he had foreseen and provided for everything. But he
had not taken into full account physical difficulties: he had, amongst
other blunders, organised a wheeled transport for which roads hardly
existed, and he had failed to perceive that the vast magnitude of his
enterprise automatically created fresh obstacles to success, or at any
rate enormously increased those which already existed.

Though on reaching Vilna Napoleon must have realised that his strategy
had already in part miscarried, he at once entered upon the execution
of the second part of the plan--the crushing of Bagration's army
which, as he hoped, was already closely pressed by Jerome. As a fact
Bagration left Volkovisk that very day for Minsk, while Jerome did
not reach Grodno until the 30th. So far as Jerome was concerned,
therefore, Bagration was in no danger, and it was only the vacillation
at the Russian Imperial head-quarters which later brought him within
measurable distance of destruction. There were other forces within
Bagration's sphere of operations which the French Emperor might hope
to sweep also into his net. Platov, from Grodno, could hardly hope
to reach the First Army with the French in force at Vilna; while the
advance-guard of the 4th Corps, after waiting at Orani for orders until
the 27th, was also isolated. A more important quarry than either of
these, however, was Barclay's detached left wing under Dokhturov, which
had only just started from the neighbourhood of Lida, having of course
received its orders last.

Napoleon therefore ordered the following movements: Oudinot, supported
by Doumerc's Cuirassier Division from Grouchy's Corps, was to follow
Wittgenstein from Vilkomirz towards Sventsiani. Murat, with Montbrun's
Cavalry Corps and Friant's and Gudin's Infantry Divisions, was directed
to pursue Barclay's central columns. Nansouty, with two of his three
divisions and Morand's Infantry Division, was directed upon Svir,
nearly due east of Vilna, with the object of falling on the flank of
Dokhturov's column. Davout with his 4th and 5th Divisions, Pajol's
Cavalry Brigade, the Lancers of the Guard, Grouchy's two remaining
cavalry divisions, Valence's Cuirassier Division from Nansouty's Corps,
and the Legion of the Vistula, about 45,000 men in all, was to advance
upon Minsk and intercept the retreat of Bagration. Davout's other
light cavalry brigade (Bordesoulle) was sent south-westward from Vilna
to scout in that direction, and on the 30th encountered Dorokhov's
detachment, which he took for the rear-guard of Baggohufwudt's Corps.
Dorokhov, seeing that French troops were now at Vilna, retreated
southward in the hope of joining Platov and, ultimately, Bagration.

Meanwhile Davout and Dokhturov, advancing on converging lines, were
rapidly approaching. Dokhturov was marching from Lida in two columns,
and on the 30th his left flank-guard, consisting of a brigade of
Pahlen's cavalry, under General Kreutz, reached Ochmiana on the
Vilna-Minsk road just as Pajol's brigade was approaching from Vilna.
The danger must, to the Russian generals, have appeared very great,
and had they not shown extraordinary energy it would have been so,
for although Davout's infantry was considerably in rear of Pajol it
could easily arrive next day and assail the left flank of Dokhturov's
column as it crossed the road. Dokhturov however, as on another and
greater emergency, rose to the occasion. He called upon his men for a
great effort; and on the 1st of July the 6th Corps and Pahlen's cavalry
crossed the Vilna-Minsk road just ahead of Davout's advancing columns,
and pressed on towards Sventsiani. There was some brisk skirmishing at
Ochmiana between Kreutz and Pajol; but at night the bulk of Dokhturov's
force had reached Svir, after a splendid forced march of 28 miles on
an execrable road, with a loss of only some scores of men and a few
retarded baggage-waggons. During the march of the 2nd the trains were
harassed by Nansouty's advanced guard and a portion of them captured,
but that evening Dokhturov was in line with the rest of the First
Army about Sventsiani. His prompt decision, admirably seconded by the
steadiness and fine marching of his troops, had extricated him safely
from a very dangerous position.

Meanwhile Barclay and Wittgenstein had operated their retreat from
Vilna and Vilkomirz with little difficulty, and with hardly any
fighting. On the 2nd of July the First Army about Sventsiani numbered
about 114,000 men; but the Tzar's advisers had now definitely decided
not to fight before reaching the Düna. The magazines which could not be
carried away were burned; and on the 3rd the retreat was continued, the
2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th Corps retiring directly on Drissa, covered by a
rear-guard under Korff, while Wittgenstein and Dokhturov fell back on
the wings.

The retreat was conducted steadily and with no great haste. Alexander
and Phull were impatient for the arrival of the army at Drissa, and the
latter sent Clausewitz, afterwards the historian of the war, to hasten
the march. Barclay, who knew better than Phull the demoralising effects
of a hasty retreat, was very angry, and declined to hurry. On the 5th
there was a slight action at Davigelishki between Sebastiani's leading
brigade under Subervie and Korff's cavalry rear-guard. The French were
repulsed, and Prince von Hohenlohe, the Colonel of the 3rd Württemberg
Chasseurs, was captured. On the 6th and 8th, however, the Russians
made night marches and distanced their pursuers; and on the 11th the
whole of the Russian centre and left were at Drissa, while Wittgenstein
was at Druia, a little lower down the Düna. There were at Drissa and
Dünaburg 19 reserve battalions, all very weak, and 20 fairly strong
depôt squadrons. Most of them were assigned to Wittgenstein, who formed
them into provisional regiments.

Eugène and St. Cyr reached the Niemen on the 29th of June, and crossed
at Prenn on the 30th, one of the pontoon bridges from Kovno being
used for the purpose. Thence they marched for Vilna, the 4th Corps
leading. The roads were frightfully bad; the rain poured in torrents
without intermission, and, to add to their other miseries, the men
were half-starved, the trains being even less able to keep up with the
march than they had been a few days before. Eugène reached Novi Troki
on the 4th, and there rested for two days. St. Cyr had halted about
half-way from the Niemen. On the 30th Poniatowski and Latour-Maubourg
reached Grodno. King Jerome, with the 8th Corps, was near Augustowo.
Reynier, with the 7th, was at Bielsk on the Warsaw-Bielostok road; and
Schwarzenberg, advancing with characteristic slowness and caution, some
way east of Warsaw. Reynier's special duty was to cover Warsaw, and
Jerome could not therefore count upon him until he had been relieved
by the Austrians. On the 30th Jerome received orders to march on
Ochmiana--this was under the impression that Dokhturov's corps, which
had just reached that place, was the army of Bagration. Next day,
however, he received fresh directions. Napoleon had ascertained the
real identity of the troops at Ochmiana and now ordered his brother to
direct the 5th and 8th Corps upon Minsk, and the 7th upon Nesvizh. It
is obvious that these contradictory directions must have harassed and
confused the inexperienced general whom his brother's will had placed
in command of three army corps; and his chief-of-staff Marchand, a
good enough divisional leader, was hardly the man to make good his
chief's deficiencies. Jerome's troops were so exhausted by the march
from Warsaw, over bad roads and in pouring rain, that he felt himself
obliged to give them a brief rest at Grodno. Reynier was delayed at the
passage of the Narew, Platov having carefully destroyed all the boats.
Minsk, Jerome's indicated objective, is nearly 180 miles from Grodno by
Novogrodek and Mir, and Nesvizh 140 from Bielostok.

Bagration left Volkovisk for Minsk late on June 28th. He expected
to reach it on July 7th, but on the same day Davout was approaching
Ochmiana, and could easily arrive before him. On the 30th, however,
Colonel Benkendorff, one of Alexander's aides-de-camp, arrived with
fresh orders, by which Bagration was to march upon Drissa to join
Barclay. Bagration, unaware that Davout was already advancing on Minsk
from Vilna, and probably believing that the order would not have been
sent had not Napoleon been following Barclay with the bulk of his
forces, decided to join his colleague by the shortest possible route.
He reached Slonim on July 1st, and on the 3rd arrived at Novogrodek,
40 miles on the Ochmiana road, where the 27th Division, marching
from Minsk, joined him. Early on the 4th the head of the column was
at Nikolaev-on-Niemen, and, although there were by no means too many
pontoons, two bridges were thrown over the flooded river. The passage
was begun as early as possible, and the 8th Corps was already across
when reports arrived from Platov. He announced that he was at Vologin,
some 20 miles from Nikolaev, that he was skirmishing with French
cavalry, and that they belonged to Davout's Corps, which was marching
on Minsk. Platov had reached Vologin on his way to join Barclay; and
there he was met by Dorokhov returning to effect a junction with
Bagration at Minsk.

On the 3rd Jerome's advance-guard had started eastward from Grodno, and
on the 4th his main body was at last under way. Contradictory orders
and lack of information had led Bagration into a situation of grave

The Second Army, with Platov and Dorokhov, counted now about 45,000
regulars, 9000 irregulars and 192 guns. Davout had about 42,000 men,
but only 30,000 actually in hand. Jerome was advancing from Grodno with
nearly 55,000 more; his advance-guard was some 60 miles from Novogrodek
in Bagration's rear.

Bagration, of course, estimated Davout's force as about 70,000 men--the
original strength of the 1st Corps; and probably reckoned Jerome's army
at about equal numbers. After considering his position, he decided to
make a dash for Minsk by way of the left bank of the Niemen and the
Slonim-Minsk high-road, hoping that Platov and Dorokhov would be able
to impose on Davout and hinder his march until the 8th, by which date
Bagration hoped to reach Minsk. The 8th Corps was hastily crossed back
over the Niemen; the pontoons were taken up; and the Second Army pushed
for the Minsk road beyond Mir, which it reached on the 6th, having
covered nearly 40 miles in two days.

As might have been expected, Platov's mass of irregulars and Dorokhov's
small detachment could not for a moment withstand the march of Davout's
column. When the French infantry pushed steadily forward the Cossacks
could only withdraw, and Dorokhov was not strong enough to defend
an open town against 30,000 sabres and bayonets. Platov therefore
retreated southward to join Bagration, and on the 7th Davout's
advanced guard entered Minsk unopposed, Compans, Desaix and Valence
arriving next day. He captured in the town over 300,000 pounds of
flour, and a vast quantity of forage, as well as much barrack and
hospital equipment. On the same day Colbert's Lancer Brigade, which
was covering Davout's left flank and rear, entered Vileika, where he
found 180,000 pounds of flour, 200,000 of biscuit, 4500 bottles of
spirits, and over 200 tons of forage, besides clothing and hospital
stores. These captures were the first of any importance that had yet
been made. The loss to the Russians was of far less importance than the
gain to the French, upon whom inadequate supplies, hard marches, and
trying climatic conditions had already had the worst effect. Even in
the regiments of Davout's Corps, notoriously the best disciplined and
administered of the army, disorder was rife. The Dutch 33rd Léger was
a prime offender. During the march to Minsk it left nearly half its
numbers behind as marauders; and eventually Napoleon was obliged to
issue a special order against them. Davout's anger at its misconduct
vented itself for days in his despatches and conversation; and, as was
but too often the case with him, he allowed it to exceed the bounds of
consideration and decency. The result was a permanent breach between
himself and Desaix.

Bagration at Mir learned that Davout, greatly his superior in numbers
as he believed, was across his path at Minsk, while Jerome's
advance-guard was approaching Novogrodek, and Reynier was on the march
from Bielostok to Slonim. He decided, rightly under the circumstances
as they presented themselves to him, to march for the Berezina at
Bobruisk, which, as we have seen, was fortified, and thence make for
the Düna by way of Mohilev and Orsha on the Dnieper. A more perilous
march can hardly be imagined, for it would take him right across the
front of the French columns moving eastward from Vilna and Minsk.
Bagration, however, expected that Davout's objective was Bobruisk, as
appears by his action a few days later, and evidently hoped to get
round his left flank. On July 7th the 8th Corps marched to Nesvizh on
the Brest-Litovsk-Bobruisk high-road, and the 7th to Novi-Svergen on
that to Minsk, in order to rally Dorokhov, while Platov, with some
Cossacks and one of Raievski's infantry regiments, took post at Mir
to guard the road from Novogrodek against Jerome. On the 8th Raievski
joined Borozdin, and both corps remained at Nesvizh until the 10th.
A halt was imperative to rest the weary troops, who had marched over
150 miles in nine days, on wretched roads and in generally terrible
weather; and it was also necessary to enable the jaded trains to get
well forward on the road to Bobruisk. Bagration was fuming at the
necessity for continual retreat, and on the 8th wrote an excited letter
on the subject to Count Arakcheiev.

On the same day Jerome's advance-guard, Rosniecki's Polish Cavalry
Division, reached Novogrodek. On the 9th the bulk of the 5th and 8th
Corps arrived, Reynier reached Slonim from Bielostok, and Rosniecki
started for Mir. On that day his leading brigade under General Turno
came in contact with Platov, and a brisk action ensued, as the result
of which the Poles were driven back with a loss of over 100 prisoners,
besides killed and wounded.


Next day Bagration started Borozdin with the divisions of Neverovski
and Prince Karl of Mecklenburg on the road to Bobruisk. He kept the 7th
Corps still at Nesvizh to give the men another day's rest, and held
back Voronzov's division to support Platov if necessary, reinforcing
the latter with one regiment of infantry and three of cavalry, under
Major-General Vassilchikov.

Platov had already evacuated Mir and drawn back towards Nesvizh. On
the 10th he was attacked by Rosniecki, and a cavalry action on a large
scale ensued. Rosniecki had with him six regiments--some 3300 lances
and sabres, while Tyskiewicz's brigade, about 1200 more, was at Mir.
Platov and Vassilchikov had at their immediate disposal at least 2000
regular cavalry and 3000 Cossacks. Rosniecki's first two brigades,
including that of Turno, and Vassilchikov's regulars crashed together
in a furious hand-to-hand combat, with fairly equal fortune; but
the third brigade coming up in support was enveloped by a cloud of
Cossacks and broken. Thereupon the whole division was forced to give
ground, hotly pressed by the Russian Hussars, Dragoons and Cossacks. A
complete rout was only averted by the gallant advance of Tyskiewicz's
brigade, which covered the retreat and enabled the broken regiments
to rally near Mir. The Russians thereupon drew off. They had suffered
considerably, and two Cossack colonels had been killed. But the Poles
had lost over 700 men, and it may be imagined that the morale of the
Polish army was considerably shaken.

On the 11th Raievski and Voronzov evacuated Nesvizh and marched some
20 miles to Romanovo, while Platov fell back on Nesvizh. On the 12th
Bagration made another long march to Slutsk, while Platov followed to

At Slutsk Bagration learned that French troops had been located at
Svislocz on the Berezina, about 27 miles north of Bobruisk. The
inference was that Davout was marching to anticipate him at the latter
place. He sent forward Raievski at once to the threatened fortress
with the 7th Corps and some cavalry and Cossacks, while the 8th waited
at Slutsk for the arrival of Platov.

Romanovo lay on the small river Morvez, which was there spanned
by a bridge. The advance-guard of Jerome's army was formed on the
14th, as before, by Rosniecki's division and Tyskiewicz's brigade;
Latour-Maubourg, with the German and Polish Cuirassiers forming
the rest of his cavalry corps, was following some distance to the
rear. Platov had part of his force in advance of the bridge, and as
Tyskiewicz's brigade came on it was suddenly charged, cut up and driven
back. The Russians then retired across the bridge, and Rosniecki,
following, plunged into a heavy cross-fire from Platov's infantry
regiment and horse artillery, and only extricated himself with severe
loss. The whole division was thrust back in disorder until it reached
Latour-Maubourg and his cuirassier division. The Polish losses had been
very heavy; the 1st Chasseurs had been practically destroyed. Platov
took 300 prisoners. He knew better than to expose his irregulars and
light horsemen to the charge of the Saxon and Westphalian Cuirassiers
and retired in the night to Slutsk. This released Borozdin, who
followed in the track of Raievski; and in this way the Second Army,
Raievski leading and Platov bringing up the rear, arrived at Bobruisk,
where it was completely concentrated on the 18th. It had suffered much
from fatigue and sickness during its long and painful marches, and
Bagration felt it necessary to use six of the weak reserve battalions
in the fortress to recruit his depleted regiments. But the Second Army
was at least safe. A glance at the map will show that all the way from
Nesvizh it had the Pinsk morasses on its right; and had Jerome and
Davout been able to combine their attacks, the result to it might well
have been fatal.

In following Bagration on his march to Bobruisk the course of events
elsewhere has been somewhat anticipated. On July 14th King Jerome
had thrown up his command. A little previously he had quarrelled with
Vandamme, who commanded the 8th Corps under him. Vandamme was a man
whose general character is entitled to no kind of respect. His conduct
in Germany had been abominable. He was, however, a thorough soldier,
and could not endure Jerome's easy-going ideas of military discipline.
The consequence was an open quarrel and the supersession of Vandamme.
Napoleon, who knew his insubordinate disposition, did not traverse
Jerome's action. But the delay at Grodno and the failure to close with
Bagration kindled his wrath, all the more so since his own immediate
operations had miscarried. He vented his rage and disappointment in two
violently abusive letters, and Jerome left the army.

As regards the degree of blame which attaches to Jerome, it is obvious
that, but for the ill-advised order to march upon Drissa, Bagration
would have been in no danger. He left Volkovisk on June 28th; Jerome
did not even reach Grodno until the 30th. The vile Polish roads,
rendered worse by the rain, made marching extremely difficult. A rest
may well have been necessary for the over-worked and ill-fed troops;
and Jerome was obliged to wait until Reynier had been relieved by the
slowly advancing Austrians. Owing to the orders which he had received
from head-quarters, Bagration all but marched into the midst of the
forces manoeuvring to intercept him. It is clear that, had Jerome moved
eastward from Grodno at once, he would have pressed his antagonist
hard. On the other hand, he had to take into account the harassed state
of his troops, their lack of adequate supplies, the miserable roads,
the absence of Reynier, the slowness of Schwarzenberg, and last, not
least, the hidden Russian army of Tormazov, which might prove very
formidable. Napoleon in his place would probably have taken the risk
of an advance of Tormazov on Warsaw. Jerome did not, and, indeed,
seeing his position as a subordinate, could not, do so. It is possible
that he did not act with all the vigour which circumstances demanded;
but in that case the blame must be laid at the door of Napoleon
for appointing to a vitally important command a man who lacked the
necessary qualifications for it. Napoleon also was directing manoeuvres
on the basis of hypotheses which might, and in fact did, prove
unfounded. He appears rather to have ignored geographical and climatic
conditions; he was certainly ill-informed as to distances. Finally he
was committing the same error which had already cost him dear in Spain,
in endeavouring to direct complicated strategic manoeuvres from a
distance; and the optimism which was becoming a mental disease with him
badly affected his calculations.

The Emperor, apparently believing that Bagration was stronger than
was actually the case, and that he might break northward, directed
Eugène with the 4th Corps on July 7th in the track of Davout; but
soon becoming aware that his intelligence was false, recalled him to
Smorgoni, where he arrived on the 12th. On the 14th Eugène left to
support the advance on Drissa, marching by way of Vileika, where the
magazines captured by Colbert afforded supplies. Nevertheless food
was invariably scanty. The wretched roads wore out the men, who fell
sick or straggled in numbers. The horses fared still worse, and many
died. St. Cyr, meanwhile, had marched by Novi Troki to Vilna, whence
he was directed by Glubokoïe also on Drissa. The march of the unhappy
Bavarians will later be alluded to. On July 11th Napoleon ordered
Mortier with part of the Guard also upon Glubokoïe, and next day the
first detachment of the Head-quarters Staff was directed thither. De
Fezensac, who was with this detachment, notes that the Young Guard were
already suffering from the effects of the tropical heat, scanty rations
and fatigue--especially the newly formed "Flanqueurs-Chasseurs." Yet
Napoleon in a letter of the 11th suggests that Mortier can live on the

The 10th Corps, after clearing the right bank of the Niemen, had been
directed north-eastward towards Mitau and Riga, which latter place
it was destined to besiege. The operations of the 10th Corps were
so isolated and otherwise of so languid a nature that they may for
the moment be ignored. Here it is only necessary to observe that the
10th Corps was moving north-eastward on a broad front, the Prussians
advancing on Mitau, the 10th Division, Poles and Germans under
Grandjean, on Dünaburg. At the latter place there was a bridge-head
garrisoned by some reserve battalions.

Davout, having occupied Minsk, remained there for some days. The
halt was necessary in order to rally the stragglers and re-establish
discipline. It was also utilised in commencing the organisation of
Minsk as one of the main depôts of the army, for which its situation
at the intersection of the Warsaw-Moscow and Vilna-Kiev high-roads
admirably fitted it.

Davout had rightly inferred that his occupation of Minsk would oblige
Bagration to retire upon Bobruisk. He might then endeavour to march up
the left bank of the Berezina to the Minsk-Smolensk road at Borisov or
Bobr, and thence press on to join Barclay. The Marshal accordingly sent
forward his advance-guard, under Bordesoulle, to reconnoitre Borisov
and occupy it if possible. He estimated Bagration's strength, from the
reports of spies and peasants, at 16 to 18 regiments of infantry and
120 guns, besides cavalry. The evaluation was much below the truth, and
gives the impression that his informants had only seen and counted the
regiments of one of Bagration's two corps and the 27th Division.

Borisov was undefended. Working parties were busy almost until the
last on the entrenchments of the bridge-head; but the only troops
available to defend it were two skeleton battalions, which retired
on the approach of the French to Mohilev. The place was occupied by
Bordesoulle on the 11th, and there and in the vicinity were taken
a large amount of flour and forage, about 80,000 pounds of salt,
16 spiked guns, 4000 cannon-balls and shells, some thousands of
entrenching tools, and a quantity of hospital equipment and supplies.

Davout's other cavalry brigade, under Pajol, was directed on Igumen,
35 miles south-east of Minsk, and thence also upon the Berezina. On
the 13th it captured a Russian convoy of 180 waggons, which, however,
being left slenderly guarded, was retaken next day by Cossacks. Pajol,
meanwhile, occupied the crossings of the Berezina at Berezino and
elsewhere, and awaited the arrival of Davout. He reconnoitred towards
Bobruisk, and it was the presence of one of his detachments at Svislocz
which alarmed Bagration and induced him to precipitate his march.

Davout decided that to advance on Bobruisk would probably be waste of
time, since Bagration could almost certainly reach the place before
him. He therefore rightly determined to march for Mohilev, 110 miles
east of Minsk, and only some 60 from Berezino. Bagration was on the
14th still two days' march west of Bobruisk with his advance-guard,
while Borozdin and Platov were yet farther off, and could not reach the
fortress until the 18th. Thence to Mohilev was four long days' march
on bad roads, while Davout had a much shorter distance to traverse.
Even if he reached Bobruisk before the Russians, they could cross the
Berezina under cover of the fortifications.

While Davout remained about Minsk, Grouchy, with his two cavalry
divisions and Colbert's Lancers, supported by Claparède's Polish
Legion, was making a sweep northward and westward to the great bend of
the Dnieper near Orsha. On the 14th he entered Lepel, 48 miles north of
Borisov, capturing large magazines of food-stuffs and forage, besides
about 160 Russian prisoners. He then turned south-eastward to Orsha,
which was occupied on the 18th without resistance. The magazines of
provisions were even more important than those at Lepel, and a number
of boats and pontoons were also taken.

The withdrawal of King Jerome left Davout in command of the whole
Napoleonic right wing. Napoleon had intended that the Marshal should
assume chief command only when the junction of the two forces should be
complete, and later he reprimanded him for doing so before it had been
effected. It is difficult to perceive what other course lay open to
Davout. He made various efforts to induce the offended King to retain
his command, but in vain: Jerome was thoroughly disgusted.

Davout's advanced guard left Minsk on July 12th, and by the 15th his
main body was concentrated near Igumen. Bagration's whole force could
not reach Bobruisk until the 18th, the French thus had a long start in
the race to Mohilev. The untrustworthy 33rd Léger was left to garrison
Minsk. The 5th Corps and Latour-Maubourg were directed by Igumen on
Mohilev, and the 8th, temporarily commanded by General Tharreau, by
Minsk and Borisov on Orsha.

The 7th Corps was ordered back to Slonim by Napoleon. The Emperor,
deceived by Tormazov's long inactivity, had made up his mind that he
need fear nothing from him. As a fact it was lack of preparation and
the necessity for completing it which was keeping Tormazov inactive;
his army was very far from a sham. Napoleon, however, deciding that the
34,000 Austrians were unnecessary in that region, determined to call
them up to the centre. Schwarzenberg had crossed the Bug at Mogilnitza
on July 3rd, and a week later reached Pruzhani, 60 miles on the
Brest-Litovsk-Minsk road. Detachments occupied Pinsk and other places,
and captured large supplies and immense quantities of salt. Otherwise
the Austrians had been inactive. The spirit both of officers and men
was decidedly hostile to the enterprise in which they were engaged,
and though Schwarzenberg himself was a Francophile he was naturally
very cautious, and probably under orders to do as little as possible.
Such considerations would naturally incline Napoleon to wish to have
the Austrians under his own eye. Reynier, with the 7th Corps, was to
take Schwarzenberg's place and cover the frontier of the Grand Duchy of
Warsaw. These plans, however, could not be executed, for on July 23rd
the Russian Third Army appeared on the scene with momentous results,
and both Schwarzenberg and Reynier had to be diverted to check it.

Davout crossed the Berezina at Berezino on July 15th and advanced on
Mohilev, leaving Pajol with three regiments of cavalry and one of
infantry to guard communications. On the 19th he was near Mohilev
with Compans, Desaix and Valence. The place was defended only by four
skeleton battalions, and was easily carried by Desaix on the 20th.
Eighteen officers and 200 men were taken; with 120,000 rations of
biscuit and flour, some thousands of muskets, and several thousand
pounds of gunpowder.

Pajol on the 19th reported that Bobruisk was full of Russian troops.
Davout therefore inferred that he would soon be attacked, and made
preparations accordingly. He called up Claparède from the northward,
where he was supporting Grouchy, and sent for his reserve artillery,
which was still in rear. He had already sent to Poniatowski and
Tharreau to hasten their march. He was by no means at his ease, since
he had, as he says, only 16,000 men (an underestimate) and expected to
be attacked by 50,000. He looked about for a position in which he could
receive battle against superior numbers, and found one at Saltanovka,
about 8 miles on the Bobruisk road.

Bagration had received orders to advance on the Düna by way of Orsha,
and on the 19th he started Raievski with the 7th Corps, Platov,
Dorokhov and the bulk of Sievers' cavalry, for Mohilev. Borozdin, with
the divisions of Karl of Mecklenburg and Neverovski, followed on the
20th, while Voronzov brought up the rear with his division of combined
grenadier companies, the 5th Chasseurs from Paskievich's division and
the Kharkov Dragoons. The garrison of Bobruisk, under General Ignatiev,
consisted now of about 6000 men. The artillery armament was fairly
powerful, but the fortifications were by no means very formidable.
General Zapolski, commanding the reserve troops at Mozyr, was ordered
to hold firm there so as to cover Tormazov's line of communications
with Kiev.

Bagration himself was furious at the necessity for retreating, and his
letters are couched in terms of angry disgust at the inaction of the
main army. "You have 100,000 men," he says in one place. "Well, fight!"
And elsewhere, "Why don't we fight? We are worse than the Prussians and
Austrians." His troops were weakened by nineteen days of marching in
rain, heat and over vile tracks. Had there only been a little fighting
Bagration would have been less exasperated. He says in one letter that
he had galloped forty versts on the chance of seeing an engagement--an
admission which throws a somewhat amusing light upon his impetuous

On the 21st Bagration's leading troops reached Staroi Bykhov, some 25
miles south of Mohilev, and on the same day the advanced Cossacks,
under Sissoiev, met the remains of the Mohilev garrison pursued by the
3rd Chasseurs-à-cheval, the only light cavalry regiment which Davout
had retained. Unexpectedly assailed, the Chasseurs were broken and
pursued to within a few miles of Mohilev, losing over 200 prisoners
alone, and only rallying under cover of the 85th Regiment, which moved
out to their relief.

Davout, having ascertained that behind the Cossacks were at least two
Russian infantry divisions, collected on the 22nd his whole disposable
force in his chosen position at Saltanovka. His left rested on the
marshy bank of the Dnieper and was unassailable. His front was covered
by a stream flowing in a difficult ravine, spanned at Saltanovka, some
1200 yards from the Dnieper, by a wooden bridge. About a mile farther
up stood the hamlet and water-mill of Fatova, where a second rivulet,
flowing parallel to the Dnieper, joins the first. On this, a mile from
Fatova, lay the village of Selets. About Saltanovka there were thick
woods, especially on the north bank of the stream; farther west the
ground was more open, but broken and difficult. Generally speaking,
the position was extremely strong; only on the right was it at all
assailable. Desaix's division guarded it, the 85th Regiment, under
General Friederichs, on the left, the 108th on the right. The bridge
was barricaded; the villages were prepared for defence. One of Compans'
regiments supported Desaix near Selets; the other two were held back
to meet a turning movement, and only brought up later. Valence's
Cuirassiers and the remains of the 3rd Chasseurs were in reserve near
Selets. The whole force counted some 20,000 men with 56 guns. Claparède
and the artillery reserve could not arrive before the 23rd.

On the 22nd the head of Bagration's army was at Dashkova, 5 miles
south of Saltanovka. Bagration ordered Raievski with the 7th Corps and
Sievers' cavalry to attack next day. His reason seems to be expressed
in his letter to Raievski on the 22nd. He tells him that he has only
6000 men in his front, according to his own intelligence; he is
therefore to attack with God's help and enter Mohilev on the heels of
the enemy. Bagration's reasoning clearly is that, Mohilev being only
held by a detachment, Raievski may easily clear the way, and the army
get through towards Orsha before the arrival of the French main body.
There is no indication that he intended to turn Davout's right with
Borozdin and Neverovski while Raievski was attacking in front: they
could not reach Dashkova until late on the 23rd.


1 verst = 2/3 mile. Russian Troops shown black, French shaded.


Fought by Marshal Davout to check Bagration's advance on Mohilev.]

Raievski advanced from Dashkova at 6 a.m. on the 23rd. He had with him
about 17,000 men with 84 or 96 guns. His cavalry he left in reserve at
Novo Sielki, 3 miles from Dashkova. He ordered Paskievich's division
to endeavour to turn the French right, promising that as soon as the
attack made headway he would hurl Kolubakin's division at Saltanovka.

Paskievich, driving in the French skirmishers, fought his way across
the rivulet, and, bringing up a battery to cover his advance, pushed on
against the 108th Regiment beyond it. Raievski, marking the advancing
roll of Paskievich's fire, believed that the time had come, and sent
forward Kolubakin's division. The Russians flung themselves at the
bridge, drove off a battalion of the 85th which endeavoured to take
them in flank, and pressed doggedly on under a murderous fire which
swept them away by platoons. Unable to advance, with the stolid courage
of their race they refused to fall back, and stood facing the French
volleys until Raievski withdrew them.

Paskievich's leading troops, attacking Fatova, were charged and
repulsed across the stream by two battalions of the 108th under
Colonel Achard. Achard, in his turn, hotly pursuing, was driven back
to his own side; and Paskievich, again advancing, carried Fatova, and
penetrated almost to the outskirts of Selets; but his offensive power
had exhausted itself, and before the heavy fire of his well-posted
and well-protected opponents he could advance no farther. Meanwhile
Raievski, determined not to abandon his lieutenant, called up
Kolubakin's reserves, and made another desperate attempt upon the
bridge, himself and General Vassilchikov leading on foot, with reckless
bravery. All was in vain; the splendid infantry went forward only to
die, and as the last attack reeled back from Friederichs' front, an
aide-de-camp arrived to report Paskievich's failure. It was now past
four o'clock, and Davout, feeling safe on his right, ordered forward
Compans with the 61st and 111th Regiments and began a general advance.
Prisoners told Raievski that Davout had about Mohilev 3 infantry and 2
cavalry divisions, and, believing that he was opposed by overwhelming
forces, he gave orders to retreat. Compans followed as far as Novo
Sielki, but as the road was practically a defile between woods he
could do nothing to seriously harass the Russian retreat, and Davout's
handful of light cavalry was of course useless. Claparède and the heavy
artillery reached Mohilev during the closing stages of the battle.
Raievski at Dashkova was met by Bagration, and the latter, judging that
the way was barred by the bulk of Davout's corps, decided to pass the
Dnieper and retreat on Smolensk.

Raievski gave his loss as 2504 killed, wounded and missing. That of the
French was naturally, under the conditions of the fighting, much less.
Davout stated it at less than 900. General Desaix was slightly wounded.
Davout was on worse terms with him than ever, and pointedly ignored him
in his reports.

Bagration wrote to Barclay that he had failed to break through at
Mohilev, and so would make for Smolensk. On the 24th Platov and
Dorokhov--except one fatigued infantry regiment--forded the Dnieper
at Verkalobovo, and pushed on to join Barclay. Raievski, supported
by Voronzov, held firm at Dashkova. Borozdin went back to Staroi
Bykhov, while the pontooneers were sent on to bridge the Dnieper at
Novi Bykhov, 14 miles farther south. On the 25th Borozdin marched
for the selected place of passage, and Raievski followed to Staroi
Bykhov, unpursued by Davout, who could not meddle with Sievers' and
Vassilchikov's squadrons. The Second Army crossed the Dnieper on
the 26th and 27th, and marched rapidly upon Mstislavl. On the same
day Platov was in touch with Barclay, having passed the Dnieper at
Dubrovna on the 27th. Davout had remained practically inactive. He has
been blamed for his inertness; but it must be remembered that he was
inferior in numbers to Bagration. He had in hand only some 25,000 men,
and his nearest reinforcement was the 5th Corps, which, harassed by
fatigue, disease and lack of supplies, only reached the Berezina on the
24th. On the 25th Bordesoulle reported that Bagration was bridging the
Dnieper, and on the same day Latour-Maubourg sent a detailed and fairly
accurate statement of Bagration's strength, which probably made Davout
more than ever inclined to caution. On the 27th Poniatowski's leading
brigade was at last within reach, but on the same day Bordesoulle
reported that Bagration was across the Dnieper. Whatever Davout might
have wished to attempt it was now too late. On the 29th Napoleon sent
orders for him to canton his three corps along the Dnieper.

As has been seen, the First Russian Army had concentrated at the
camp of Drissa, but it had scarcely arrived when proposals for its
abandonment were made.

The Russian army can scarcely be said to have had a commander at
this moment. Clausewitz gives a graphic account of the disorder that
prevailed. The Emperor was of course nominally the supreme head,
and he was more or less at the mercy of his personal entourage. He
himself believed in Phull, but everyone else distrusted the Prussian
theorist--certainly not without good reason. The Tzar's relations
often exercised undue influence over him, and were distrusted and
disliked by the courtiers and soldiers; the courtiers were at odds
with the military men; finally, the native Russian officers were
jealous of the foreigners. Barclay himself was included among the
objects of their dislike, and Colonel von Wollzogen, one of his German
aides, was regarded with poisonous hatred, merely because his manners
were unpleasing! Projects of strategy were almost as numerous as
advisers. Count Lieven, late ambassador at Berlin, had there seen
much of Scharnhörst, who considered that no attempt should be made to
fight before reaching Smolensk. Barclay protested repeatedly against
remaining at Drissa, and he was supported by the Tzar's relative,
Alexander of Württemberg. Paulucci, the chief-of-staff, declared
furiously that the man who had selected such a position could only be
either a fool or a traitor, and resigned.

The camp of Drissa lay in a bend of the Düna between Drissa and
Bridzievo. Its land front was about 6500 yards in length, that on
the river about 8000. The land front had ten redoubts, connected by
batteries. In front of redoubts 6, 7, 8 and 9 was an abattis 2000
yards long and 120 broad; but before the left wing a marshy wood gave
excellent cover to an attacking enemy. Two more redoubts strengthened
the first line of defence. The second was formed of five closed works,
and another formed a kind of citadel behind it. Communication was
maintained with the right bank by four bridges, which had only just
been constructed and were incompletely protected with outworks. The
subsidiary means of defence--pitfalls, palisades, entanglements and
abattis--were also very incomplete. The stores were largely accumulated
in wooden sheds in the village of Drissa, opposite the left wing and
exposed to hostile fire.

These tactical defects were, however, slight as compared with the
strategic disadvantages. Lying far away from the Moscow road it could
afford no defence against an enemy who chose to advance by that line,
and it did not even cover that to St. Petersburg. The roads which led
to it were mere country tracks, which ruined the convoys which had to
use them. Moreover, by retiring on Drissa the First Army had actually
retreated away from, instead of towards, Bagration, and if the two
separated forces wished to effect a junction they could do so only by
retiring far to the rear, or by perilous marches across the front of
Napoleon's advancing columns.

Alexander, perhaps at Phull's instigation, reprimanded Bagration for
retreating, as if he could have done anything else. Finally, however,
Phull was induced to give way, and it was decided, just in time, to
evacuate Drissa. The 1st Corps was ordered to cover the St. Petersburg
road, and on July 14th the rest of the army began its march for Vitebsk.

The French advanced troops were already almost on the Düna. On the
13th Oudinot with Legrand's division made a somewhat unnecessary
demonstration against the bridge-head of Dünaburg. On the night of the
14-15th Wittgenstein bridged the Düna and sent across a detachment
under Kulnev, which surprised St. Genies' cavalry brigade, and captured
the brigadier and over 100 men. Meanwhile the First Army pursued its
march, covered by the river, and reached Polotsk on the 18th.

On July 16th Napoleon left Vilna and on the 18th arrived at Glubokoïe.
Next day, learning that Drissa was abandoned, he turned Eugène towards
Vitebsk, placed the cavalry of the 6th Corps under his orders, and
called Grouchy also to join him. The 6th Corps was marching for
Glubokoïe, already in a sad condition owing to heat, bad roads and
deficiency of bread. It should have received 70,000 bread rations at
Vilna, but so completely had the commissariat broken down that only
27,000 could be furnished. Diarrhoea and dysentery had broken out; and
the unhappy Bavarians fell out in thousands, mostly to die untended by
the wayside.

Murat's three infantry divisions, under the general command of Comte
Lobau, were extended from Perebrod, 20 miles west of Drissa, towards
the south-east. Oudinot was approaching on the left. Ney and Nansouty
were near Desna, some 20 miles below Drissa.

The conditions among the leading troops were less pitiable than with
the 6th Corps, but still very bad. Supplies were scanty. Bread was
scarce; the troops were lucky if they received even flour. Owing to
the breakdown of the transport clothing and equipment--especially
footgear--were becoming deficient. The roads were bad, the heat was
great and there was much sickness. Lack of supplies led to a general
slackening of the bonds of discipline. The country was ravaged by
marauding stragglers, who committed every kind of outrage. All efforts
to check the evil failed completely.

On the 18th Barclay was at Polotsk. He rightly inferred that Napoleon
would direct his attacks against the Russian left, and informed
Alexander that he must continue his retreat on Vitebsk. Fresh orders
were given to Wittgenstein; and the reserve troops at Dünaburg and
elsewhere were placed under his command.

At Polotsk the Tzar left the army. It was a wise step, for he
was useless at the front, while at the seat of government his
presence would be invaluable. Paulucci accompanied him, and was
replaced by Major-General Yermólov, while Colonel Toll became
Quartermaster-General. On bidding farewell Alexander bade Barclay not
to endanger his army, for it was the only one that Russia possessed.
This injunction undoubtedly made a strong impression upon Barclay, and
is the best explanation of his irresolution some weeks later.

On July 20th Napoleon's plan was definitely formed. He would turn
Barclay's left by throwing forward the Guard and the 4th and 6th Corps
to Bechenkoviczi on the road to Vitebsk, while Murat and Ney contained
the Russians in front, and Oudinot occupied Drissa and threatened their

Barclay, however, was already moving. On the 19th Uvarov's cavalry
corps started from Polotsk, and by the 23rd the entire army was
collected round Vitebsk. There Barclay heard that Bagration had
reached Mohilev, and wrote begging him to hasten his march on Orsha.
He sent Major-General Tuchkov IV with his infantry brigade, 3 cavalry
regiments and 1 of Cossacks, towards Babinovichi on the Orsha road, and
Lieutenant-General Count Ostermann-Tolstoï, who had succeeded Shuvalov
(retired through illness) with the 4th Corps, a brigade of Dragoons,
and the Hussars of the Guard and of Sumi, towards Ostrovno on the way
to Bechenkoviczi. The rest of the Russian army remained at Vitebsk to
rest and reorganise.

The advance-guard of the French 4th Corps was already at Bechenkoviczi.
Oudinot had two divisions at Polotsk and the third at Drissa. Lobau
was to Eugène's left rear, with Ney some 20 miles farther back: Murat,
with Nansouty's corps, was near Bechenkoviczi; Montbrun was moving up
the right bank of the Düna towards Vitebsk; Napoleon with the Guard was
at Kamen, about 21 miles from Bechenkoviczi. The unhappy 6th Corps was
toiling along the Glubokoïe-Polotsk road.

At 6 a.m. on the 25th Murat's and Ostermann's outposts collided near
Ostrovno. Here the road, coming from Vitebsk between woods, made a
sharp turn to the right, and another equally abrupt to the left some
way farther on. The leading Russian regiment, the Guard Hussars,
charged headlong and, sabring the French pickets, blundered up against
Piré's brigade in the rear. It was driven back with heavy loss upon
a horse battery which was following, and in the confusion the French
captured six guns. Ostermann, who was some way behind, sent forward the
Sumi Hussars to check the French advance. He then formed for battle,
with Choglokov's division deployed across the road and Bakhmetiev's
in columns behind, and in this order the 4th Corps marched forward to
Ostrovno, and took position between the woods.

Ostermann had in all 18 battalions and 20 squadrons--some 13,000 men
and perhaps 60 guns. The French troops which could take part in the
action included Bruyère's and St. Germain's cavalry divisions and
Delzons' infantry division--10,000 bayonets, 6000 lances and sabres,
with about 40 guns.

Ostermann proved a very poor tactician. Against infantry and artillery
in position the French cavalry could do nothing, and until the head
of Delzons' division, the two battalions of the 8th Léger, arrived
the action was confined to some spectacular but useless cavalry
skirmishing. When the 8th Léger came up it was attacked by three
Russian battalions, which moved forward against it, but they were
charged in flank by two cavalry regiments and driven back. They should
not have been exposed alone in front of the position. Ostermann
then attacked both flanks of the French at once, but with only four
battalions, which were charged by the cavalry and broken. Delzons'
division was now coming into action, and Ostermann withdrew to a
position two miles farther back. The action was certainly not to his

Barclay on this day had sent Lieutenant-General Konovnitzin with
his division of the 3rd Corps (less Tuchkov IV's brigade) and the
1st Cavalry Corps to support his advanced guard. Early on the 26th
Ostermann retired behind Konovnitzin, who took up a defensive position
behind a ravine, with a wood on his left. At 10 a.m. Murat arrived in
his front with Delzons and Nansouty. Huard's brigade (two regiments)
was directed against the Russian right, Roussel's upon the left; the
106th Regiment and Nansouty's cavalry, except one brigade which covered
the left, remained in reserve.

Roussel's troops found much difficulty in penetrating the wood on
the Russian left and, assailed by Konovnitzin's reserve, were driven
out and over the ravine. The Russians, however, pursuing heedlessly,
were repulsed by a charge of one of Nansouty's brigades; and Roussel,
rallying his troops, penetrated into the wood. Huard, meanwhile, was
steadily pushing forward on the Russian right, and, being presently
supported by the 106th, gained ground rapidly. Konovnitzin drew off in
good order and retreated on Vitebsk, little harassed by the way, the
broken and wooded nature of the country greatly impeding the pursuit.
Napoleon, wishing to deliver a general action at Vitebsk, directed
Eugène not to press too closely, lest Barclay should take alarm and
retreat without fighting.

On the 27th Napoleon had near Ostrovno the Guard (less Claparède
and Colbert), Lobau's three divisions, the 3rd and 4th Corps, and
Nansouty's and Montbrun's cavalry, about 120,000 men in all. The 2nd
Corps was at Drissa and Polotsk, in contact with Wittgenstein, and
the 6th at Uchach, 60 miles in rear of Ostrovno. During the night
Konovnitzin had been joined by the corps commander, Tuchkov I, with
Strogonov's division; and the united force now retired on Vitebsk.

Barclay had made up his mind to fight at Vitebsk. His reasons, as
detailed to the Tzar, were that Napoleon had in hand only the Guard,
the 3rd and 4th Corps, and Murat's cavalry, while the steadiness of
the Russian troops in the recent fighting gave good hopes of victory;
and that he felt it his duty to draw Napoleon's attention upon him and
give Bagration time wherein to come up. As regards the first reason he
did not know that Napoleon had with him three divisions of Davout's
corps, and was therefore 30,000 stronger than his estimate. Respecting
the second, if Bagration really were making the terribly dangerous
march from Mohilev by Orsha and Babinovichi, Barclay was indeed bound
to fight for the sake of his comrade. That the plan of attempting
a junction by way of Orsha was hazardous is clear, but it scarcely
affects Barclay's reasoning. On the assumption that Bagration was
coming by the Orsha road, and that Napoleon was only 90,000 strong, his
determination was not unwise.

The Russian army was drawn up on the 27th behind the Luchizza, a stream
flowing into the Düna just below Vitebsk. Clausewitz criticises the
position severely; but he seems rather prone to ignore the fact that
good tactical positions are not plentiful in Russia--as he himself
elsewhere admits. Strategically it had the grave defect of lying almost
parallel to the Orsha road by which communications with Bagration
were expected to be established. But it is at any rate certain that
it would, like the faulty position of Eylau, have been defended
with desperate courage. An advance-guard of 8 battalions, 2 Cossack
regiments and all the regular light cavalry was stationed on the left
bank of the Luchizza, under General Pahlen, the commander of the 3rd
Cavalry Corps.

Though the Russian army had suffered less than its opponents during the
long marches from the Niemen to Vitebsk it had not escaped considerable
losses by disease and fatigue. The reinforcements along the Düna had
mostly been assigned to Wittgenstein. Platov and Dorokhov were also
absent. Barclay's strength at Vitebsk appears to have been about
82,000 men, of whom 14,000 were cavalry--mostly regulars--and over 400
excellently horsed guns.

On the 27th the French advance-guard moved upon Vitebsk, and there was
some brisk fighting between Pahlen's detachment and Broussier's and
Bruyère's divisions. The Cossacks of the Russian Guard overthrew the
16th Chasseurs-à-cheval, who endeavoured to stop them with carbine
fire, and made a mad dash right among Broussier's infantry squares,
while some Voltigeurs of the 9th French Regiment, pushed across
the Luchizza, defended themselves brilliantly against a cloud of
Russian horsemen. Pahlen steadily retired as the French advanced, and
Napoleon did not wish to press, since his concentration would not be
complete until the evening. Ney was still on the march from Ostrovno,
and Montbrun on the other bank of the Düna opposite Vitebsk. In the
afternoon Barclay received Bagration's despatch announcing that he was
marching for Smolensk. Barclay at once issued orders for a retreat. In
the night the whole army, leaving its camp-fires burning, evacuated its
position and moved silently away in three columns, General Dokhturov,
with the 5th and 6th Corps, marching directly on Smolensk by way of
Rudnia, the rest of the army taking the more circuitous routes by
Surazh and Poriechie. Dokhturov's march was covered by a rear-guard,
under Major-General Shevich, that of the other two columns by Pahlen
with 14 battalions and 32 squadrons. The withdrawal from the position
was a triumph of good management and discipline. Scarce a single
straggler was left behind, and the retiring columns were well on their
way before the fact of their departure was ascertained. The diverging
lines of retreat confused the French cavalry, and not until the 30th
was Murat definitely able to report that Barclay had retreated on
Smolensk. Except for some not very serious skirmishing between the
advanced guards of the French and the rear-guards of the Russians there
was no fighting. The Russians moved at a pace which set pursuit at
defiance. On July 31st Dokhturov was outside Smolensk, having marched
80 miles in four days. On August 1st Barclay arrived from Poriechie.
Bagration, hurrying from Novi Bykhov by Propoïsk and Mstistavl, came up
two days later. His troops had covered 150 miles through sands, bogs
and forests in eight days. The pedestrian feats of the Russians are
remarkable. Since June 28 the Second Army had marched over 540 miles,
giving an average of 15 miles a day. As there were some days of rest or
battle the actual pace was much more rapid.

The Russian losses in the fighting round Vitebsk may be estimated at
about 4000, with 6 (or 8) guns. Those of the French may have been a
little less.

Napoleon entered Vitebsk on the 28th. He must have been bitterly
disappointed at the negative result of his operations. Once more
the Russians had quietly withdrawn out of reach at the very moment
of contact. The French losses through fatigue and disease had been
relatively enormous, and the manoeuvre of Vitebsk had failed as
completely as the manoeuvre at Vilna. In a sense the failure was
even worse, for the Russians had emerged from the situation with a
great strategic success to their credit. In spite of blunders and
miscalculation, despite contradictory orders and lack of any unity of
command, Barclay and Bagration had achieved what had been the primary
object of their weary marches and manoeuvres to the rear, and had
effected their union.



With the arrival of Napoleon's main army on the Düna and Dnieper the
first stage of the campaign came to an end. To all appearance the
invaders had gained immense advantages. Nearly the whole of the ancient
Duchy of Lithuania, together with most of Kurland, had passed into
Napoleon's hands almost without a blow having been struck in their
defence. A number of considerable towns had been occupied, and a great
quantity of Russian stores captured. The Russian armies, which six
weeks earlier had been ranged along the line of the Bug and the Niemen,
had now retreated behind that formed by the Düna and the Dnieper, and
the passage of both these rivers could be effected by the French at
their convenience. The Russian troops, apart from the discouragement
caused by constant retreating, had suffered considerable material loss.

When the withdrawal from the frontier began the armies of Barclay and
Bagration had numbered together some 174,000 men. On the Düna the
First Army had been joined by about 9000 reserves, and at Smolensk by
17 depôt battalions and 4 batteries of artillery--probably 6000 more.
Bagration had incorporated in his army the garrison of Mohilev and
six reserve battalions from Bobruisk--say 3000. These figures, added
together, give a total of 192,000.

On August 6th the Russian forces were as follows:--

The First and Second Armies presented a total of 121,000 men; besides
a detachment of 1 Dragoon and 3 Cossack regiments detached towards
Poriechie. Three regiments of Cossacks had been detached to Riga and
elsewhere. Two of Raievski's infantry regiments, which had been the
worst sufferers at Saltanovka, had been sent into the interior to
recruit. The deduction under these headings may be fairly estimated
at 4500 men. Wittgenstein's corps and the reserves from Drissa and
Dünaburg were on July 12th over 28,500 strong. The total effective
of the Russian First and Second Armies early in August was therefore
154,000, showing a deficiency since June of 38,000 men. The fighting
round Mohilev and Vitebsk had scarcely cost more than 6000 or 7000
men, and 5000 is a high estimate for losses in the rear-guard actions.
The diminution from other causes was therefore 27,000. It is to be
accounted for by sickness, by straggling and fatigue due to the long
and painful marches, but also in large measure to desertion among the
Lithuanian troops. These half-hearted men were probably no great loss,
nor can it be said that the diminution was, on the whole, excessive;
still it was serious. Over and above the abandoned magazines a portion
of the material had been lost. Only eight guns had been captured in
action, but some thirty more had been abandoned during the long marches
through sands, swamps and forests; it says volumes for the Russian
artillery that the number was not greater.

If, however, the Russian losses had been serious, those of the French
had been more so. The causes which diminished the strength of the
Russians operated also against the invaders, and apparently the latter,
for the most part used to a higher standard of living, were less able
to endure hardships. Fatigue and heat might have been endured without
any very serious results, but owing to the breakdown of the transport,
the supplies of bread and biscuit could never keep up with the troops;
even flour was rarely to be had. Meat was, as a rule, not lacking,
but it was often of bad quality, the cattle being overdriven and
frequently themselves ill-fed. A diet of poor meat, unseasoned, and
unaccompanied by bread or vegetables, is not suitable for men who have
to endure hard labour and fatigue under the rays of a Russian midsummer
sun. Such bread and biscuit as were procurable were bad, and the
ill-ground rye had serious effects upon the stomachs of men accustomed
to well-prepared wheaten flour. Every effort was made to bring up
adequate supplies, but the ill-fed and over-worked draft beasts were
utterly unable to cope with the transport, and died in great numbers.
The men, foraging for themselves, were rarely able to obtain more than
small quantities of grain, and as there were no portable mills in
the equipment of the troops it had to be consumed boiled. The water
available in Lithuania was scanty in quantity and often bad; and in
the general disorganisation of the commissariat brandy, which formed
part of the usual ration, and might, at any rate, have done something
towards rendering the water less unwholesome, was rarely served out.
The result was a frightful amount of sickness--diarrhoea, dysentery and
typhus--and in a wretchedly poor and sparsely populated region little
could be done to reduce it. The sick were left behind in temporary
hospital camps; where they died by thousands in the midst of filth,
starvation and general destitution. Of those who went into these dens
of misery it was calculated that not one in ten ever emerged alive.

The fighting line was seriously weakened by the immense number of sick.
It was also reduced by the necessity of making large detachments to
bring up the belated supply trains and to forage for bread, and yet
further depleted by straggling, partly for purposes of foraging, partly
owing to fatigue, and in some measure to indiscipline. This straggling
had always been one of the bad features of the Napoleonic army, and the
marches always appear, except when in face of the enemy, to have been
conducted with great irregularity. A German eyewitness was amazed to
see the regiments of Davout's corps, the best disciplined of the army,
making a short march in the most disorderly array.

There is, of course, something to be said for this permission to
the men to take their ease when there was no necessity for precise
formation and watchfulness; and certainly nothing is ever gained
by harassing and overworking soldiers distinguished for cheerful
readiness--as Frenchmen have always been. But it is difficult to avoid
the conclusion that the irregularity went beneath the surface. With
the gaiety and readiness of the French nature is intermixed a decided
strain of impatience under restraint which easily degenerates into
lawlessness. The straggling which, in earlier days, had perhaps been
necessary for the ill-compacted Revolutionary armies, had now become
a habit, and soon developed into a monstrous abuse, which ultimately,
as much as anything, proved the ruin of the army. The writer is far
from wishing to defend a hard and inelastic discipline which crushes
personal initiative. But he is strongly of opinion that had the French
march discipline been better at the outset, the army would not have
broken up as it did during the retreat. Upon this subject more will be
said in its proper place.

Finally, it must be observed that the proper means of checking
the evils which afflicted the contending armies were very little
understood. Not only was there a deficiency of trained _personnel_,
but the medical art was, as compared with what it is to-day, in a
very undeveloped condition. It cannot be said that Napoleon did not
endeavour to provide his troops with medical and surgical assistance,
but it was never adequate, either in quantity or quality. The
officers were rarely qualified to make good the deficiencies of the
sanitary services. Among the corps commanders there were certainly
some who thoroughly understood the details of administration. Davout
was undoubtedly the best of them; but Ney was also a careful and
conscientious administrator. As early as August he is found issuing
orders for the preparation of winter clothing. Among the divisional
leaders, also, there were some who thoroughly understood how to look
after their men--De Fezensac instances Ledru des Essarts as one of
them. Still, the careful administrators were certainly in a minority,
and their excellent intentions were often hampered by lack of
scientific knowledge.

Turning from the general examination of these evils to consideration
of the intrinsic damage which they caused, it is to be noted that the
1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th and 8th Army Corps and the 4 corps of
Reserve Cavalry totalled on June 24th about 315,000 men. The returns
of August 3rd and 4th give an aggregate of less than 213,000. There
were, therefore, even on the showing of the official returns, 102,000
men in rear. Detachments account for about 20,000. There remain 82,000;
and, since allowance must be made for drafts and absentees rejoined, it
will probably be fair to estimate that the losses amounted to 100,000.
The loss in battle cannot be estimated higher than 15,000; it follows
that 85,000 men had disappeared from the muster-rolls by reason of
straggling and sickness--that is, nearly 30 per cent. Of course, they
were not all permanently lost to the army, but a very large proportion
were, owing to the terrible lack of provision for the temporarily
disabled soldiers.

The mortality among the horses had been very large, mainly owing to
lack of forage. The number dwindled day by day, and this circumstance
was, in a sense, more fatal than loss of men. Every disabled horse
meant further lessening of the means of transport. The cavalry
regiments were unable to mount even their diminished effectives except
by sweeping up horses from the countryside; and these were rarely of
much service. The guns of the reserve parks had to be left at Vilna,
and even part of the artillery of several army corps.

When Napoleon reached Vitebsk the number of men missing among the
450,000 who had crossed the frontier in June and July, may be
conservatively calculated at 120,000, and a very large proportion
of them were either already dead or disabled from further service.
Straggling and desertion were especially prevalent among the foreign
regiments. Their administration was generally less efficient; less
care was taken of them by the French officials. They had naturally
little affection for the cause in which they had been enlisted by
their sovereigns, and their officers must have been exasperated at
the disgraceful fashion in which Napoleon invariably endeavoured to
saddle their troops with the sole blame for disorders. It is more than
probable that disgust at this, no less than the way in which they had
been sacrificed, was one of the motives which impelled so many German
officers to turn against Napoleon in the following year.

For every reason a halt was imperatively necessary, and Napoleon called
it as soon as the escape of the First Russian Army was an accomplished
fact. On the 29th he wrote to Davout, ordering him to canton his
troops. The various corps took up quarters on a line extending from
Surazh to beyond Mohilev, with the cavalry pushed out in front and on
the flanks. Latour-Maubourg was about Rogachev-on-Dnieper, some 60
miles south of Mohilev, with a Polish infantry division in support.

There was a little skirmishing between the advanced French cavalry and
belated Russian detachments. On July 30th Murat's horsemen picked up
about 100 prisoners and 40 abandoned vehicles, and captured a welcome
supply of flour and forage. On the 31st Villata's Italian cavalry
brigade surprised a Russian convoy at Velizh, escorted by 4 depôt
battalions. The 2nd Chasseurs under Colonel Banco charged, and captured
60 waggons and 250 prisoners. The total Russian loss was estimated by
Eugène at 700, and 600 sacks of flour and a herd of bullocks fell into
the hands of the Italian troopers. But for these captures the French
cavalry could hardly have advanced another step. The regiments were,
with few exceptions, very weak, and the horses exhausted by fatigue
and privation. Sebastiani--perhaps with some exaggeration, for he was
ill and discouraged--declared that his division had only 2300 mounted
men remaining, out of over 4000. Hardly one of the corps was really
fit for service except perhaps the 1st. Ney had not yet received his
reserve of artillery, which was toiling up from the rear. Not even in
the 1st Corps were things altogether satisfactory. Davout was growling
at the disorder in the regiments, threatening Desaix, whom he accused
of abetting it, with arrest, and re-establishing discipline by stern
methods, including the shooting of marauders caught in the act.

During the last days of July Oudinot had fought several very bloody and
inconclusive actions with Wittgenstein. The 2nd Corps had been forced
back upon the Düna; and on August 4th Napoleon ordered St. Cyr, who
was near Bechenkoviczi, to march to its support, though the unhappy
Bavarians had scarcely begun to refit and were still smitten with
disease. St. Cyr complained bitterly, but he had to obey.

By August 4th the Grand Army had settled down in cantonments.
Head-quarters were at Vitebsk, where ovens were being built, and
hospitals and magazines established. The 4th Corps was at Surazh,
Velizh and Poriechie, the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Cavalry Corps about Rudnia,
the 3rd Corps around Liozna, north-west of Rudnia, with the 24th Light
Infantry supporting Sebastiani. The 1st Corps, not yet reunited, was
spread from Vitebsk to Orsha, with the 8th Corps at the latter place,
and the 5th between Sklov and Mohilev, whither Latour-Maubourg was also

The general results of the halt were very beneficial. The
establishments of the regiments began to rise. It is true that the
muster rolls for August 4th only show about 197,000 men present out
of a nominal 270,000, but stragglers were rallying each day; and men
and horses were at least reposing from fatigue. The supply department
was not entirely satisfactory. Davout's troops were able to draw
breadstuffs from the country along the Dnieper, and had, as has been
seen, captured several Russian depôts. The corps north of the Dnieper,
however, depended for bread mainly on what could be brought up by the
over-worked transport from Vilna and Minsk. Here, however, there was an
improvement, since the halt allowed the trains to close up. If bread
were not regularly served out the men at any rate obtained something,
and the corps commanders were able to begin to accumulate a small

Besides the increase caused by stragglers and convalescents rejoining,
reinforcements were arriving. The rear detachments of the Imperial
Guard were beginning to come up, also the Hesse-Darmstadt Guards, under
Prince Emil, of which one battalion joined at Vitebsk, while the other
was marching from Vilna. Three newly formed battalions for the Vistula
Legion were also on the way, and various _régiments de marche_ (i.e.
drafts, convalescents, etc.). A Portuguese cavalry regiment had joined
Davout, and the Grand Quarter-General, 4690 strong, reached Vitebsk on
the 7th. When hostilities recommenced the Grand Army was considerably
the better for its rest. Davout's troops especially were in excellent
order, and carried on the person bread, biscuit and flour for fifteen
days. The Westphalians also were well supplied. North of the Dnieper
matters were less satisfactory. Friant on rejoining Davout stated that
he had always had to forage for breadstuffs, though he had plenty of

The administration of the hospitals was still very bad, even at
Vitebsk; and elsewhere no doubt it was much worse. Matters were not
improved by the fact that Surgeon-General Larrey and General Mathieu
Dumas, the chief of the military administration, were on bad terms with
each other.

Some changes were at this time made in the commands. Napoleon's old,
but not very capable or energetic, friend, Junot, was appointed to the
command of the 8th Corps. Marchand was given the Württemberg division
of Ney's corps. It had been commanded at the outset by the Crown
Prince Wilhelm, but, partly owing to disgust at the disorder, and the
fashion in which he and his men were slandered to save the faces of the
French, partly owing to illness, he had returned to Vilna, leaving the
command to Lieutenant-General Scheler. Marchand declined to take the
direct control out of the hands of the latter, and the two worked well
together. Otherwise, being an old comrade and subordinate, Marchand was
probably welcome to Ney.

The Marquis d'Alorna, one of the few Portuguese officers who had
preferred to serve Napoleon willingly, was appointed Military Governor
of Mohilev. General Charpentier was placed in charge of Vitebsk, and
Gomès Freyre, another Portuguese, of Glubokoïe. The two brigades of
Bavarian light cavalry belonging to the 6th Corps were combined into a
division, under General Graf von Preising, and transferred to the 4th
Corps, which now had 36 squadrons.

Napoleon, of course, did not intend the halt to be more than temporary.
At the outset of the campaign he had told Metternich that he did not
intend to go farther than Smolensk in 1812, but, having established
himself there, purposed to organise Lithuania and consolidate his rule
in the former Polish provinces before attempting to conquer Russia
Proper. This statement he repeated to others--notably to Jomini--and
it can hardly be considered as a mere blind. Up to the present he had
failed to strike a heavy blow at the opposing Russian army The extent
of country which he occupied was by no means an advantage, since it
was too poor to support his huge forces, and merely lengthened his
already long line of communications. But now, at last, a battle might
reasonably be expected. Barclay and Bagration had united their forces,
and it was scarcely within the bounds of probability that Smolensk,
a home of the ancient Rurikovich line, long contended for with hated
Poland, one of the sacred cities of Russia, would be abandoned without
fighting. The halt had for its primary object the putting of the army
into good condition preparatory to a fresh and energetic advance.

As early as August 6th Napoleon told Eugène that an early renewal of
hostilities was to be anticipated, and that he should probably advance
on Smolensk by the left bank of the Dnieper. On the same day he was
asking Davout for information as to which bank of the river was in
his opinion the better for the advance. Davout's reply was that upon
the whole he thought the left bank the more suitable, and apparently
this decided the Emperor. The merits and demerits of the plan will
be discussed later. Here it is only necessary to observe that it was
preconceived, and not due to the influence of Russian operations.

The two Russian armies were concentrated at Smolensk by August 4th.
The city had practically no fortifications of value. Its massive brick
walls were capable of resisting the attack of field guns, but there
were several ill-closed breaches; and the only guns in the place were
antique pieces without carriages, kept mainly as relics. Smolensk
was garrisoned by a column of 17 depôt battalions, 8 squadrons and 4
batteries of artillery--about 6000 or 7000 men--which had been brought
from Kaluga by General Winzingerode. The infantry was drafted into the
two armies, ten battalions going to the 1st, seven to the 2nd, which
had dwindled during its forced marches, and needed more strengthening
in proportion. The artillery was also divided, but the squadrons
were sent back to Kaluga to serve as a nucleus for fresh formations.
Winzingerode was sent with the Kazan Dragoons from Uvarov's division
and 3 regiments of Cossacks to observe the French left wing towards
Surazh and Poriechie. There then remained a held army of 121,000 men,
of whom over 18,000 were regular cavalry, with some 650 pieces of

Unhappily there was no unity of command. Barclay, as minister of
war, was the hierarchical chief, but both Bagration and himself
were Generals of Infantry, and the former was the senior in rank.
Though a Georgian by birth he posed as an ultra Russian and received
accordingly the willing, not to say eager and unscrupulous, support of
the many officers who chose to regard Barclay as a half-hearted and
even treacherous foreigner. His fighting record was a good one, and he
might, with some justice, consider that he had the better title to the
command-in-chief. Barclay also, with all his fine qualities, appears
to have been deficient in tact. He does not appear to have fully
realised the difficulties with which Bagration had had to contend, nor
the very creditable attempts which he had made to effect a junction.
After crossing the Dnieper Bagration appears to have considered that
his best service would be performed in operating upon Napoleon's
flank. Von Wollzogen, sent to urge him to hasten the union of the two
armies, found him, according to his own account, by no means willing
to do so, and informed Barclay. The latter thereupon wrote pressing
him to hasten, in phrases which, though hardly beyond what the urgency
of the case required, were perhaps unjust in their implications, and
were certainly fiercely resented by Bagration. He reached Smolensk in
a frame of mind which would find cause of offence in every trifle.
Barclay, however, displayed unusual tact, for which his aide-de-camp
Löwenstern gives himself the credit. When Bagration came to report
himself the War-Minister met him in his antechamber in full uniform,
and expressed his regret that he had been anticipated in calling upon
him. The two chiefs then had a conversation, as the result of which
Barclay apologised by letter for any injustice which he might have
done his colleague. For the moment good relations were established,
and Barclay wrote to the Tzar expressing his admiration of Bagration's
character. But it is to be feared that Bagration's friendly feelings
were of no very long continuance, and a sense of injury still rankled
in his mind. What was worse, many of the general officers were almost
openly intriguing for the definite appointment of Bagration to the
supreme command. Yermólov actually wrote to the Tzar urging him to
make it. The chief of the malcontents was the Grand Duke Constantine,
who, as the Tzar's brother and heir apparent, was the most important
commander in the army. Constantine was a violent and irrational person,
bearing, both in disposition and in the exceeding ugliness of his
features, a strong resemblance to his ill-fated father. Barclay's
position rapidly became almost an intolerable one.

For the moment all went well. A council was called for the 6th of
August, and to it came the two commanders-in-chief, the Grand Duke
Constantine, whom Barclay dared not omit, Yermólov, Toll and St.
Priest, Bagration's French chief-of-staff. The decision as to an
offensive had been taken before the meeting, and only the details
were to be settled. There was naturally considerable divergence of
opinion. The extension of the French cantonments appeared to afford
an excellent opportunity. It was determined to throw strong forces
against Napoleon's extreme left, under Eugène, which might perhaps be
completely destroyed. Bagration, however, wished to drive the attack
home with the full force of both armies, and to this Barclay would not
agree. He was very naturally uneasy as to what the mighty conqueror
opposed to him might do to turn the tables. Smolensk, weak as it was,
was the pivot of the Russian operations, and its loss would shatter
the entire strategic plan. Barclay therefore proposed that Bagration
should hold it while the First Army pushed forward against Vitebsk.
To this Bagration demurred, and eventually it was decided to leave
only a detachment to cover the city and to march upon Vitebsk with the
combined armies, the Second holding rather back on the left to guard
against a turning movement.

Barclay, however, was very uneasy. The Tzar had bidden him preserve
his army at all hazards, and, though he underestimated Napoleon's
strength, it was no light thing to advance to the attack of so terrible
an adversary. Sir Robert Wilson, the British military commissioner,
who reached head-quarters a few days later, says that Barclay was
terrorised by his opponent's renown, but, seeing the situation and
the tremendous consequences which would ensue on the destruction of
Russia's single formidable army, it can hardly be wondered that he
was resolute to take no risks. He informed the Council of Alexander's
words, and expressed his firm determination not to move more than three
marches from Smolensk.

It is, of course, possible to argue that the plan, thus confined, was
but a half-measure; but it is equally possible that Barclay's caution
saved the Russian army from destruction. He was certainly so far
dominated by Napoleon that he expected to be turned, and prepared to
throw back his right wing at the first alarm. On the other hand, it was
certain that if Napoleon pursued his usual strategy he would endeavour
to turn one or the other of the Russian flanks, and probability pointed
to the right.

General Neverovski was left to guard Smolensk. His division was
improved in quality by making over two regiments to Paskievich, and
receiving in return those of Poltava and Ladoga. The Kharkov Dragoon
regiment and three regiments of Cossacks were also attached to him,
and he was directed to move out along the left bank of the Dnieper.

Having thus, as he hoped, provided for speedy intelligence, and for the
security of Smolensk, if it were threatened, Barclay, on August 7th,
set his forces in motion. Bagration moved along the right bank of the
Dnieper to Katan, some 16 miles from Smolensk. The 5th and 6th Corps
and the 3rd Cavalry Corps advanced on Rudnia, and the 2nd, 3rd and 4th
Corps and the rest of the cavalry in the direction of Poriechie. A
detachment of light infantry under Baron Rosen connected the First and
Second Armies. Each column was preceded by an advance guard of infantry
and cavalry, and in front of all were the Cossacks under the general
command of Platov. The advancing army totalled about 113,000 men.

At the end of the first day's march, Barclay received intelligence from
Winzingerode that Eugène and Nansouty were at or near Poriechie. This
naturally suggested that Napoleon had obtained information, and was
moving to turn the Russian right. Barclay accordingly halted, and faced
to the north-east, requesting Bagration to advance to Prikaz Vidra, 16
miles north of Katan, to guard the left flank. Platov was still moving
north-westward, and on the 8th he encountered Sebastiani's division
near Inkovo, east of Rudnia. Sebastiani was supported by the 24th
Léger and Beurmann's light cavalry brigade from Ney's corps. Beurmann,
however, hardly showed the vigour which the occasion required, and only
his Württemberg horse artillery battery took a decided share in the
action, the brunt of which fell upon Sebastiani. The French division,
which was less than 3000 strong, fought well, but was forced to fall
back before superior numbers. A company of the 24th was captured by
the Cossacks, and the loss probably totalled 600 men, of whom 300 were
prisoners. Murat was at head-quarters during the action, and by some
the reverse is attributed to his absence. Undoubtedly he would have
been better able to combine the operations of Sebastiani and Beurmann
than was his chief-of-staff, Belliard, and would also have brought
pressure to bear upon Ney. The latter, who was cantoned about Liozna,
concentrated his troops, but made no move to Sebastiani's support, for
which he was next day severely reprimanded by Napoleon.

On the same day Nansouty's outposts near Velizh were attacked by those
of Winzingerode. The intelligence all went to show that the Russians
were advancing against the French left wing. On the 8th Napoleon
received Davout's report upon the roads along the Dnieper; and at
2 a.m. on the 9th he replied to say that he had decided to march
upon Smolensk by the left bank, and ordered the Marshal to trace the
itinerary. Murat hurried to the front to resume his command. Ney drew
towards him the three divisions of the 1st Corps to meet a Russian
advance. On the 8th the Guard had been paid, and had received brandy
for ten days. Friant, who was to fall at the head of the Old Guard
on the field of Waterloo, was nominated Colonel-General of the Foot
Grenadiers in place of General Dorsenne, recently deceased. He was
welcomed at a parade on the 9th by Napoleon himself--much to his

On the 10th General Eblé was sent to Rasasna, 22 miles above Orsha,
with orders to throw four bridges over the Dnieper. The weather was
very bad, with heavy rain, which broke up the roads and impeded
the march of the troops. Nansouty's and Montbrun's cavalry (except
Sebastiani's division), Ney's corps, and the divisions of Morand,
Friant and Gudin, were directed on Rasasna. Eugène would follow,
forming the rear-guard of the movement, which was covered on its left
by extensive forests. Davout's army was also ordered on Rasasna, except
Dombrowski's division, which was to remain near Mohilev to observe
Bobruisk. It is characteristic of Napoleon's methods that Ney knew
nothing of the proposed movement until late on the 10th. On the 11th
the Guard left Vitebsk. The weather was still bad, and it was probably
owing to this that Ney was unable to evacuate all his sick, earning
thereby another reprimand from Napoleon.

General Charpentier was left to garrison Vitebsk with the new Guard
regiment of "Flanqueurs-Chasseurs," Guyon's cavalry brigade of the
4th Corps, the 3rd battalion of the 1st Vistula Regiment, and a
Hesse-Darmstadt battalion on the way from Vilna--3800 men in all, a
number which would be increased by the 16th to over 7000 by various
_bataillons de marche_. Sebastiani's division, temporarily commanded by
General Pajol, was to remain in observation near Rudnia. Dombrowski's
division was between Rogachev and Mohilev. A battalion of Westphalians
garrisoned Orsha. Deducting these detachments, Napoleon had available
for the advance on Smolensk over 200,000 men, exclusive of the
head-quarter troops. By the 13th the whole huge mass was either at or
within easy reach of Rasasna, and Nansouty, Montbrun and Ney crossed
the river and took the lead.

It is somewhat remarkable that there is no indication during this
period of any attempt to ascertain the whereabouts of the Russians.
Napoleon knew that they had not pushed their advance on Vitebsk, but he
was apparently so confident that his move would meet all emergencies
that he does not seem to have troubled himself about the 120,000
enemies who were somewhere to his left.

Barclay, as has been seen, was facing towards Poriechie. About this
time he received a direct order from Alexander to take the offensive.
Bagration moved to Prikaz Vidra on the 9th; and Barclay reported that
the two armies could concentrate in a day if necessary, that in their
position they covered Smolensk and the country between the Düna and
Dnieper, and could easily be supplied from the magazines which had
been prepared beforehand at Toropetz and other places.

Bagration, however, was not satisfied. He was in a mood which would
probably have induced him to quarrel with anything that Barclay did. He
told Arakcheiev that the War-Minister's head-quarters were so choked
with Germans that a Russian could not live there, and that constant
marching and counter-marching would drive him mad. To Yermólov he wrote
that he had neither hay, straw, bread nor a position, and that Barclay
must either do something or else supersede him (Bagration). He expected
that Napoleon would amuse them by demonstrations about Rudnia, and move
on Smolensk by their left. It is not clear whether this anticipation of
the French Emperor's intentions was the result of careful reflection,
or simply due to the natural tendency of every commander to imagine
himself the especial object of the enemy's attentions.

The result was that Barclay, in despair, gave Bagration a free hand. He
empowered him to withdraw upon Smolensk if he judged it necessary, and
in general to take his own measures for the protection of the Russian
left flank. The unfortunate War-Minister was beset by open and secret
foes, and this, added to the responsibility which weighed upon him,
probably explains this extraordinary step, which practically amounted
to an abdication of the supreme command.

On the 12th, accordingly, Bagration withdrew towards Smolensk. On the
same day, however, Barclay received fresh information that the French
were in force near Poriechie. It was absolutely baseless, but he could
scarcely discredit it, more especially as he was obsessed by the idea
of an attack from that quarter. He wrote to Bagration that he expected
an attack on the 15th, and took up a position between the Kasplia lake
and the village of Volokovaia, about 22 miles north-west of Smolensk.
He called up Bagration to Katan and Nadva, about 8 miles farther
north-west, in order to guard his own left. On the 13th the Second Army
was retiring on Smolensk, and the 7th Corps had actually reached the
place when Barclay's order of recall arrived.

This seems almost to have disturbed Bagration's mental balance. He
complained bitterly of the constant counter-marching, which was
steadily exhausting and depleting the Second Army. For this there was
good excuse, but little for the violent letters which he wrote to
Yermólov, in which he describes Barclay as a traitor worthy of death.
The latter had certainly carried his cautious policy too far, since
another march in advance on the 9th or 10th would have shown that there
were no large forces in his front, and he was certainly in a state of
great irresolution. Still, seeing the character of his adversary, this
was, at any rate, excusable, and one may fairly ask why the masses of
Russian light cavalry had not better enlightened the situation.

It must be said in defence of Bagration that however much he allowed
his fiery temperament to master him, and though his letters to a
dangerous intriguer like Yermólov were subversive of all military
subordination, he did not himself set the example of disobedience. On
the 14th he counter-marched the 8th Corps on Katan, pushing Sievers'
and Vassilchikov's cavalry, with a supporting brigade of the 7th Corps,
on towards Volokovaia. The bulk of the 7th Corps was at Smolensk,
and the men needed rest, so that Raievski did not commence his march
until 7 p.m. As he moved off, cannonading was heard in the direction
of Krasnoï. Towards 10 o'clock an aide-de-camp arrived from Neverovski
with the news that French troops were advancing by the south bank of
the Dnieper. Bagration had also, by some means, received intelligence,
for soon after came orders from him to halt. In the night, Raievski
received a fresh order to return to support Neverovski. At daybreak on
the 15th the 7th Corps re-entered Smolensk.

On the morning of the 14th the Grand Army began to advance from
Rasasna. Murat led the way with Nansouty's, Montbrun's and Grouchy's
corps and the light cavalry of the 1st and 3rd Corps; and behind him
came Ney's three infantry divisions. In rear of Ney came Davout's
corps, and then the Guard. Eugène was crossing at Rasasna; the 8th
Corps was marching from Orsha on Davout's right, and the 5th farther
out, covered towards the south by Latour-Maubourg. Between two and
three in the afternoon the advance-guard reached Krasnoï, occupied by
Neverovski's division.

Various French writers have expressed astonishment at this small force
having been left exposed, and apparently by accident on the south side
of the Dnieper. All this is, of course, little better than nonsense,
or, at best, adulation of Napoleon's genius, which was so great that it
robbed his opponents of common sense! The sending of the 27th Division
along the left bank of the river was a perfectly rational measure of
precaution. It was in observation, and not intended to abide the attack
of a greatly superior force, though it was quite capable of dealing
with a division or flying detachment. By whichever bank the Russian
leaders chose to operate they could not leave the other unobserved,
especially since the French held the crossings at Orsha and elsewhere.
The mistake--presumably Bagration's--appears to have been in not
stationing the infantry closer to Smolensk and sending only the cavalry
to observe the Orsha road.

Krasnoï is a small town about 30 miles from Smolensk. Neverovski's
cavalry outposts were about Liady, a few miles west. They were driven
out by Grouchy's corps, which formed Murat's left wing; and Neverovski
learned that overwhelming forces were marching upon him.



Commander of the French Cavalry

From the painting by Gérard at Versailles]

He at once made his dispositions for retreat. A little east of Krasnoï
the Lossmina river flows to the Dnieper through a gully over which the
high-road passed by the usual wooden bridge. Neverovski ordered the
50th Chasseurs with 2 guns to march with all speed to Korythnia,
nearly half-way to Smolensk, to form a sustaining force in case of a
grave defeat, and began to withdraw. When Murat and Ney arrived they
found him with 9 battalions, his cavalry and 8 guns, behind the ravine,
with 1 battalion and 2 guns in Krasnoï.

The general order of the French advance is a little uncertain, but
Grouchy, with Chastel's light horse and De la Houssaye's dragoons,
appears to have been on the left, the light cavalry of the 1st and
3rd Corps with the 24th Léger, personally led by Ney, in the centre;
Montbrun's two Cuirassier divisions on the right, with Nansouty in
support. The 24th Léger attacked and carried Krasnoï about 3 p.m.,
capturing the two guns and driving the remains of the garrison over
the ravine. The 9th Polish Cavalry followed them over the bridge, but,
throwing themselves rashly upon the supporting infantry, were repulsed.
The Kharkov dragoons pursued, but declined to charge in face of the
masses behind, and Neverovski, seeing the French numbers, sent his
cavalry off to the rear, and began to withdraw, with his ten battalions
ranged in two dense columns.

The hostile horsemen were now crowding over the Lossmina ravine. Murat,
having got some squadrons together, flung himself at the Russian
rear-guard, threw it into disorder and captured five or six guns more.
Neverovski rallied the broken troops, and then, apparently doubting the
steadiness of his young recruits, supported now by the fire of only two
guns, united his force into a single great square. As the battalions
were formed, in Continental fashion, six deep, and as the number of men
was about 5000, each face was probably 130 yards long.

As the French and allied cavalry crossed the ravine each regiment
hurried up to the front and singly and apparently haphazard charged
the retiring square. To all appearance Murat exercised no general
control, but acted like a mere regimental commander, riding furiously
about, leading isolated charges which were futile against steady
infantry. The artillery was mostly blocked at the Lossmina, and only
three Württemberg guns succeeded in coming into action; while Ney's
infantry, which might have held the Russians until the guns could do
their work, could not force its way up through the impeding hosts of
cavalry. The country was much broken and cut up by small hollows and
gullies; while the road was generally bordered by trees. Over this
country, eastward of Krasnoï, on the way to Korythnia, was moving the
host of French, Polish and German horsemen, while in its midst the
great square of the 27th Division lumbered solemnly along, with the
attacks of the cavalry breaking upon it like waves upon a rock, firing
and stabbing doggedly at everything that troubled it, and making its
way steadily to Korythnia in spite of what its assailants could do. The
firing of the Russian recruits appears to have often been wild, but
their steadiness was exemplary. Even when the three Württemberg guns at
last worked their way up and opened fire there was no shattering them.
A Württemberg regiment did succeed, at one moment, in breaking into
the square, but was forced out again, and the 27th Division steadied
its ranks and went on its dogged way. The charges grew more and more
ineffective owing to the fatigue of men and horses; and about 8 p.m.
Neverovski arrived in safety at Korythnia. There he rallied his cavalry
and rear-guard, and next day retreated on Smolensk. He had lost about
1500 men in all, of whom half were prisoners, with 8 guns. The French
losses do not appear to have exceeded 800.

The action was extremely creditable to the young Russian troops, though
it is only fair to say that they owed much to Murat's mismanagement.
Ney, in the midst of the action, went to the King and endeavoured to
induce him to allow the infantry to pass to the front, but without
avail. He was furious, and wrote a memorandum to Napoleon begging him
to have a regular advance-guard of infantry. Cavalry, as he pointed
out, were powerless to prevent the retreat of infantry.

Raievski reached Smolensk at dawn on the 15th. In the town was
General Bennigsen, who was accompanying the army apparently in the
hope of succeeding to the chief command. To him the anxious commander
of the 7th Corps went for advice, but Bennigsen was not the man to
assist juniors in difficulties, much less to allow himself to become
associated with what might be a great disaster. He put Raievski off
with a few meaningless words, merely counselling him to save his
artillery. Raievski, as he says, felt that when the fate of Russia hung
in the balance it was no time to think of a few guns. He took up a
position about 2 miles in advance of the town, and awaited Neverovski,
who arrived at 2 p.m. From him Raievski learned that probably the whole
French army was advancing upon Smolensk, and hurried off a despatch
to Barclay. At 5 p.m. he heard artillery fire at his outposts, and,
hurrying to the front, saw the masses of Murat's cavalry coming up from

Raievski did not falter. As he saw it his duty was plain. He and his
men must die, if necessary, in defence of the city, for if it fell
Napoleon could take Barclay and Bagration in rear, cutting their
line of communication with Moscow and the south. He was supported by
Paskievich, to whom, according to his biographer, the main credit of
the resolution was due. This assertion may be taken for what it is
worth, though there is no reason to doubt that Paskievich cordially
supported his chief's resolution.

Smolensk, in 1812, lay chiefly upon the southern bank of the river. It
had formerly been a great frontier fortress, but since the advent of
artillery its importance had dwindled, owing to the fact that it was
more or less commanded by low heights. Its nucleus consisted of the
ancient fortified city, whose massive brick walls formed an irregular
pentagon of nearly four miles in circumference. These walls were
generally about 30 feet high and from 15 to 20 in thickness. At the
top were galleries open to the sky, too narrow to admit of guns being
placed in position. At intervals were 32 towers, in which staircases
gave access to the walls. It was only on the platforms of these towers
that artillery could be placed, and they were in general less solidly
constructed than the walls. Inside the walls were backed by ancient
earthen ramparts. At the south-west angle was a small regular fort
of earth, in so neglected a condition that its ramparts could easily
be scaled by infantry. This so-called "Royal Citadel," dating from
the days of the Polish occupation, constituted in reality perhaps the
weakest point in the line of defence. Close to the southern or Malakova
Gate a breach, made during the siege by Sigismund III of Poland in
1611, was covered by an earthen redan. The walls were encircled by a
ditch and covered way, also in a neglected condition. Along the east
side a considerable gully gave further protection, and at the west side
was another but shallower depression. All round the city were extensive
suburbs, mostly consisting of wooden buildings. Among them were many
dismantled earthworks. These suburbs extended almost up to the walls
of the inner city, and, since they afforded cover to assailants, the
defenders were practically forced to take up position either in or in
advance of them. They were generally called after the town the road to
which passed through them.

On the south side four chief roads ran into Smolensk, that from Warsaw
entering the city from the south-west by Krasnoï. The road from Mohilev
by Mstislavl led nearly directly southward; that to Roslavl and Orel
branched off from it near the Malakova Gate; the Ielnia-Kaluga road led
south-eastward for some distance, finally turning eastward.

From the north gate, over a long wooden bridge, led three roads, that
to Vitebsk on the left, that to Velizh and St. Petersburg in the
middle, and that to Moscow on the right. The latter ran for some 5
miles along the bank of the Dnieper, and then crossed the chord of a
great bend of the river to Solovievo, about 27 miles east of Smolensk,
where it passed again to the south side. A cross-road passed by the
village of Gorbunovo in a shallow curve to the high-road at Lubino, 14
miles distant. From the south side of Smolensk another track crossed
the Dnieper by a ford at Prudichevo, about 6 miles out, and also joined
the high-road about 2 miles west of Lubino. These tracks must be noted,
since a few days later they became of immense importance.

Raievski had with him only 8 regiments and 6 batteries of his own
corps, and Neverovski's weakened force. According to himself his
strength (probably infantry and artillery only) was scarcely 13,000
men. He had 72 guns. Realising that his duty was to contest the
city inch by inch, he ranged his force in advance of the suburbs.
Paskievich's division occupied the Krasnoï suburb and the ditch before
the citadel, with the Vilna Regiment from the 27th Division and a
makeshift battalion of convalescents stationed in reserve behind
the wall. Kolubakin's division defended the Mstislavl suburb, and
Stavidzki's brigade of the 27th that of Roslavl. These 23 battalions
could only guard about half of the south front of the suburbs. Four
more were in reserve in the town, and only two could be spared to
watch the line of nearly 2 miles from the Roslavl suburb to the river.
To make the best possible show Raievski stationed his cavalry there.
Eighteen guns were placed on the Royal Citadel; the rest along the
earth ramparts behind the walls. Thus placed, the Russians awaited
attack. Raievski says that though he had had little rest the night
before he could not sleep.

In the night the Lancers of Lithuania and the New Russian Dragoons
reached Smolensk, thus giving Raievski 12 more squadrons, with which he
strengthened his screen on the left.

By 10 p.m. on the 15th the bulk of Murat's cavalry was about 3 miles
from Smolensk, with its outposts in touch with Raievski. Ney's corps
was immediately behind. Davout had reached Korythnia. The Guard was in
rear of Davout; the head of the 4th Corps at Liadi. The 8th Corps had
lost its way, but the 5th was nearly in line with Davout, and could
come up in the afternoon. Without reckoning Eugène and the Guard,
120,000 men could be in front of Smolensk before evening.

What, meanwhile, were Barclay and Bagration doing? Barclay was still
anxious about an attack from the direction of Poriechie and sent
pressing orders to his cavalry commanders to endeavour to clear up
the situation. He doubted whether the advance on Smolensk was being
made by more than a part of the French army. Bagration was directed
to cross the Dnieper at Katan, and join Raievski and Neverovski in
defending the Smolensk road. Dokhturov's corps would take his place at
Nadva. Bagration moved to Katan and threw a bridge, but he soon became
aware that to cross would simply mean his annihilation. He sent word
to Barclay that an army which he estimated at 115,000 men, without
Eugène and the Guard, was marching on Smolensk, and that he himself
must now go thither by the right bank. The reports of Bagration and
Raievski removed Barclay's doubts, and he issued orders for all his
corps to march upon Smolensk next day. To Raievski Bagration sent a
characteristic message:

 "Dear Friend,

 "I shall not march to rejoin you--I shall run. I only wish I had
 wings. Courage! God will help you!"

At midnight on the 15th-16th Napoleon wrote to Eugène saying that
Smolensk was evacuated. A little later Ney was ordered to occupy
it. It does not appear that the Emperor had any definite information
upon which to base his over-confident opinion. He seems indeed to have
been impressed by Bagration's bridge-building at Katan, which had been
observed on the 15th by a reconnaissance from head-quarters. A flank
attack upon his army as it lay stretched along the Rasasna-Smolensk
road might have serious consequences. He consequently halted the whole
of the 1st Corps about Korythnia, except Gudin's division, which
continued its advance on Smolensk.


August 17 1812]

Very early on the 16th the French and Russian outposts before Smolensk
were bickering with each other. Between 8 and 9 a.m. the bulk of Ney's
and Murat's force reached the front. The King and the Marshal brought
some batteries into action against Raievski's artillery, and Ney
deployed his corps opposite the Krasnoï suburb and the Royal Citadel,
Ledru's division on the right, Scheler's Württembergers on the left
rear, Razout in reserve. Murat's divisions extended to the right. The
advance posts were skirmishing hotly, and on both sides a number of
guns were engaged, but, to the astonishment of Raievski, no attack
was made. He spoke afterwards of his success having been due to the
feeble measures of the French. Ney and Murat were, of course, awaiting
orders. Ney also had less than 19,000 infantry, scarcely enough to
attempt to carry the city by main force, especially since he did not
know Raievski's strength. Napoleon was keeping the bulk of his army
ready to face towards Katan and endeavouring to clear up the situation
by reconnaissances. Towards noon he heard that the bridge had been
removed, and started for Smolensk. He arrived about 1 p.m. and, going
at once to the front, closely reconnoitred the Russian position.

It was perhaps in consequence of inferences made from what he had
seen, that Napoleon directed Murat and Ney to press their advance. The
indications as to time are very vague, but in all probability nothing
like an attack was made until the afternoon. Apparently about 1.30
p.m. the Russian cavalry were forced to retire under the walls of the
town, and the Württembergers began to press home the attack on the
Krasnoï suburb. Raievski's line was so thin that an advance in force
at any point would shatter it. In strengthening the defence in the
Krasnoï suburb troops had to be moved in that direction. All along the
opposing fronts extended a line of fire, and, though the attack was
nowhere being energetically pressed, the Russian troops were almost all
engaged. There remained in reserve only the two regiments in the town,
when Raievski was informed that the French had penetrated his skeleton
left and were approaching the bridge. He rushed off to repel them with
his feeble reserve, and at this moment a battalion of the French 46th,
seeing the Royal Citadel almost denuded of defenders, dashed forward,
easily mounted the crumbling earth rampart, and penetrated into the
interior. The garrison, however, resisted desperately. Raievski,
finding the report of the advance upon the bridge baseless, hurried
back to the threatened point, supports were brought up, and the gallant
assailants thrown back over the rampart just as a second battalion
was mounting to their assistance, carrying it away in their retreat.
As they went to the rear they were heavily fired upon, and suffered
great loss. Elsewhere the only successes gained had been the driving
in of stubbornly resisting outposts, and the French opportunity was
fleeting. At 3.20 p.m. General Sokolnicki, a Polish officer attached
to the General Staff, reported Russian troops on the road to Rudnia.
Gudin's division did not reach the front until 4 p.m., Poniatowski
not until 5 p.m., and time was needed for the men to rest and to take
up position. The critical period for the Russians was, in fact, over.
Firing continued until dusk, but no attempt was made to press home an
attack. The Russian main army was pouring down towards the city, and
any success could hardly be more than a temporary one. Raievski's fine
resolution had robbed Napoleon of his chance; and it is no discredit
to him that his own immediate peril had been less great than he had

Bagration, despite his encouraging words, was not able to arrive to
Raievski's assistance until the evening, and as the distance from Katan
to Smolensk is not more than 17 miles, it must be supposed that he felt
himself obliged to halt in order to become satisfied that Napoleon's
reconnaissances did not prelude a serious attack. He himself hastened
on to Smolensk, and having ascertained that Raievski was not as yet
pressed and also, apparently, that no attack was intended at Katan,
hurried back to the latter place and directed Borozdin on Smolensk. The
Second Cuirassier Division had already been sent on. Raievski, feeling
that cavalry was useless in the town, kept them on the north side of
the Dnieper.[1]

Barclay, having convinced himself of his error as to the direction of
Napoleon's attack, turned the heads of all his corps towards Smolensk,
and the march was pressed with desperate energy. All through the
hot summer's day, over roads so bad as not to deserve the name, the
Russian soldiers pressed forward. Tuchkov I with the 3rd and 4th Corps
and Uvarov's cavalry came from Kasplia by the Poriechie road; the
Grand Duke Constantine, with the 2nd and 3rd, and Korf's and Pahlen's
cavalry, from Volokovaia by Prikaz Vidra; Dokhturov from Nadva by the
Rudnia road; while Borozdin and Vassilchikov marched along the bank
of the Dnieper. Tuchkov's and Dokhturov's troops had to march over 24
miles in a direct line without allowing for sinuosities in the roads
and additions occasioned by moving into position, Constantine's over
22. Nevertheless, by five in the afternoon the whole army was within
easy reach of the threatened town, and an hour later Borozdin's leading
brigade reached the bridge to the support of Raievski.

Smolensk being saved, the problem before the Russian generals was
what next to do. Barclay anticipated that, having failed to capture
Smolensk, Napoleon's next move would be on Solovievo. Its seizure
would force the Russian armies either to reopen their chief line of
communications at the sword's point, with all the chances against
them, or to retreat northward. The abandonment of Smolensk would then
become practically inevitable. It would, of course, have been perfectly
feasible to leave a garrison in the place which might have held out for
a week or two, but it may reasonably be asked what end could be gained
by sacrificing it. At any rate, it was obvious that a possible French
move upon Solovievo must be guarded against, and it was arranged that
the Second Army should move eastward ready to anticipate the enemy at
the threatened point, while the First remained about Smolensk to defend
the line of the Dnieper.

To this end Dokhturov, with the 6th Corps, Konovnitzin's division
of the 3rd and the Chasseurs of the Guard, was ordered to relieve
Raievski, and about midnight his troops arrived to take up the
positions in the suburbs vacated by those of the former. Raievski left
the 6th Chasseurs at the disposal of Dokhturov; and the Dragoons of
Siberia, Irkutsk and Orenburg replaced the cavalry of the Second Army.
Paskievich assisted Dokhturov's divisional leaders in posting their
troops; while the 7th Corps and 27th Division crossed the Dnieper and
rejoined the 8th Corps. Next day Bagration started eastward, leaving a
rear-guard at Sheïn Ostrog, 3 miles east of Smolensk, to guard a ford
on the Dnieper.

In Smolensk Likhachev's division held the Krasnoï suburb and the
Royal Citadel, and that of Kapsevich those of Mstislavl and Roslavl.
Konovnitzin's division was held in reserve. For the present the left
was only watched by the 6th Chasseurs and the cavalry. The Guard
Chasseurs were at the bridge. Dokhturov had at his disposal about 120
guns, some of which were hoisted on to the platforms of the towers.

The rest of the First Army was stationed on the St. Petersburg road,
about a mile and a half from the city, on a low plateau overlooking
it. The corps of Baggohufwudt and Ostermann-Tolstoï were in front
line, the former on the right of the road, the latter on the left. On
Baggohufwudt's right were the 1st and 2nd Cavalry Corps, while behind
him stood Strogonov's division of the 3rd Corps. The 3rd Cavalry Corps
(less the regiments in Smolensk) was stationed to the left and in
advance of the 4th Corps. The general reserve was formed by the 5th
Corps, stationed 1 verst in rear of Strogonov. Finally, Platov's and
Karpov's Cossacks watched the course of the river as far as Katan.

While Dokhturov's troops were taking up their positions they came
into collision with the French outposts, which were driven back
some short distance, Likhachev and Kapsevich making a general move
forward at daybreak on the 17th in order to clear their front.
This has been usually regarded as a general sortie on the part of
Dokhturov to regain the suburbs, but neither in the French documents
nor in Raievski's account is there any indication that they had been
evacuated. Meanwhile, Davout's corps and the bulk of the Guard had
arrived; and Napoleon had before Smolensk on the morning of the 17th
the 1st, 3rd and 5th Corps, the Guard, and Murat's eight cavalry
divisions--in all over 120,000 men. Junot's corps, owing to a series
of mischances and misdirections, for which Napoleon blamed Junot, and
the latter his senior divisional commander Tharreau, was still in rear.
Latour-Maubourg was observing the country some distance to the south,
while the 4th Corps was extended from Korythnia back to Rasasna.

Napoleon was still uneasy concerning the Russian troops at Katan, so
much so that on the 17th, by his orders, Ney sent thither Mourier's
cavalry brigade, supported by 6 battalions of Würtembergers and 6 guns,
to guard against a possible flank attack. The force had a sharp action
with the Cossacks and supporting infantry, which cost them 11 officers
and probably 200 men killed and wounded.

During the morning there was continual skirmishing in the suburbs, but
it was not until past midday that Napoleon ordered the advance. His
reasons for assaulting the city at all are obscure, but it is possible
that he expected to be able to carry the suburbs without excessive
difficulty, and that the old walls of the city would easily yield
to a steady cannonade. He may have counted upon the disadvantage of
Dokhturov's position on a down slope, and on the fact that he himself
could overlook both the city and the opposite bank of the river.
Bogdanovich says that he wished to cross the Dnieper and cut off
Bagration's army, and only when no ford could be found did he make a
direct assault--but there is no trace of this in the French documents.
De Chambray thinks that Napoleon expected the Russians to deliver
battle before the city. But from his higher ground he could see every
movement of troops from Barclay's position. He therefore had no grounds
for making such an assumption, and there is no reason for supposing
that he did so. It is, of course, possible that he hoped by developing
an assault, to induce Barclay to support Dokhturov with the bulk of his
forces and fight with his back to the river, but there appears to be
no evidence in favour of the supposition.

At about 12.30 the French advanced to the attack. Ney moved against
the Royal Citadel and the Krasnoï suburb, with Ledru's division on the
right, the remainder of the Württembergers on the left, and Razout
in reserve. Davout assailed the Mstislavl suburb, Morand's division
in the centre, Friant's on the right, and Gudin's, accompanied by
the Marshal in person, on the left. Compans and Desaix were in
reserve. Still farther to the right advanced Poniatowski's corps, with
Zayonczek's division marching on the left against the Malakova Gate,
and Kniaziewicz's on the right against the Nikolska suburb. The whole
east front of the city was merely observed by Murat's cavalry.

On the whole the attack was, up to a certain point, successful--as
might have been expected, when some 55,000 infantry were advancing
downhill against about 19,000, whose position among a straggling maze
of timber buildings was swept by the fire of over 300 guns. Progress
was, however, very slow. Ledru and the Württembergers eventually
carried the riverine suburbs, but could get no farther; the Royal
Citadel, now formidably armed and garrisoned, defied attack. Davout's
three splendid divisions went forward with admirable determination,
drove Kapsevich's troops into the suburbs, and gained ground steadily,
though at the price of very severe losses. On the right the Poles,
after fierce fighting, captured the suburbs opposite to them, but,
coming under the fire from the ramparts, were brought to a stand. The
result was that by five o'clock the French and Poles had carried all
the suburbs. Kapsevich's division was being pressed back towards the
walls by Davout's advance. Konovnitzin's troops had all been used up in
supporting the fighting line.

On the French right the Russian dragoons were charged and driven back
into the city by the Polish cavalry. A battery of heavy artillery
opened from the north bank of the Dnieper and checked the pursuers, but
as it was isolated the Poles, with great gallantry, forded the river
and rode forward to charge. They were attacked and repulsed by the
escort of Barclay, who had just come thither to reconnoitre. A Lancer
regiment was then detailed to escort the battery. Murat and Poniatowski
now established a mass of artillery on the bank which fired over the
city upon the permanent bridge and the temporary ones which had been
thrown near it. Barclay thereupon placed several batteries in position
on the north bank opposite the French and Polish guns, and after a hot
cannonade succeeded in silencing them or forcing them to withdraw. Sir
Robert Wilson says that he chose the position for the Russian artillery.

As he saw himself driven from the suburbs Dokhturov sent to Barclay for
reinforcements. The latter sent an encouraging message; and ordered
forward the division of the young Prince Eugen of Württemberg, who had
never yet commanded in action, and was burning to distinguish himself.
Eugen reached the front at the most critical moment of the action.
Dokhturov's reserves were all engaged; Ney was furiously assailing
the Royal Citadel; Davout and Poniatowski had driven Kapsevich and
Konovnitzin upon and into the city, and were massing for an assault
on the Malakova Gate. Kapsevich's division was broken and crowding
back in complete disorder; Generals Skalon and Balla had fallen; and
Dokhturov, having no fresh troops to put in, was greatly depressed. The
appearance of Eugen's division relieved him. Pushnitzki's brigade was
sent off to the right to help Likhachev against Ney, Rossi's to the
left to strengthen the defence against Poniatowski; and the Chasseur
brigade, led by Eugen himself, marched straight forward to the Malakova
Gate and, charging furiously out through the midst of the fugitives,
reoccupied the covered way and checked the farther advance of Davout.

The driving of the Russians out of the suburbs marked the end of the
French success. Rossi's brigade reached the Royal Citadel just in time
to help Likhachev to resist Ney's final attack, which was repelled
with heavy loss, though Ledru and Scheler were now supported by the
4th Regiment from Razout's division. Dokhturov rallied Kapsevich's
division, and posted his force along the walls, Prince Eugen taking
command on the left. The French halted within musket-shot, sheltering
as best they could behind the houses and the old earthworks among them,
but losing heavily by the fire from the battlements, and especially
from the light guns on the towers. It was clearly hopeless to attempt
an assault until a breach had been effected, and Napoleon sent forward
24 12-pounder guns of the Imperial Guard, which joined Davout's
reserve and opened a furious fire. The Russians retorted vigorously,
and as the infantry attacks slackened, the battle became a tremendous
cannonade. The Russian artillery strove its hardest to silence the
12-pounder batteries, but in vain; they pounded steadily at the ancient
walls, the gunners encouraged by the example set by Davout and Comte
Sorbier, who personally directed their fire; but they could make little
impression. Accounts are conflicting as to the fate of the covered
way, the Russians insisting that they occupied it; while the French
equally declared that they carried it. Captain François of the 30e de
Ligne says that the enfilading fire of the French artillery finally
obliged the Russians to abandon it; and that Davout's sappers began to
undermine the wall. Probably fortune varied at different points. It is
only certain that the French and Poles were definitely checked at the
wall, and the battle died out when darkness came on.

By this time the city and suburbs were everywhere on fire. The French
later declared that the city had been deliberately destroyed; but
this is entirely improbable. Being very largely constructed of wood,
it was certain to take fire, and both time and means were lacking to
extinguish a conflagration which spread with the fall of every shell.

The losses on both sides had been heavy. The Russians had engaged
only 55 battalions, and Dokhturov's entire force, including cavalry,
Cossacks and artillery, probably hardly exceeded 30,000 men. Barclay
probably understates his loss at 4000, but no Russian authority admits
more than 6000. Prince Eugen gives his own loss at 1300. Though his
division came into action late it must be remembered that one brigade
had to execute a desperate sortie in the face of enormous odds and
a concentrated fire of cannon and musketry. Konovnitzin's division
can hardly have suffered more; that of Likhachev and the detachments
on the left probably lost less in proportion. On the other hand,
Kapsevich's troops must have lost heavily. Probably the Russian figure
of 6000 casualties is near the mark. In other words, Dokhturov had lost
one-fifth of his effective strength. Raievski estimated his losses on
the 16th at about 1000, giving a Russian total for the two days of 7000.

The French losses were naturally much greater, since they had brought
far larger numbers into action, but were apparently not heavier in
proportion. Davout gave the losses of the 1st Corps at from 5000 to
6000 men. Gudin returned a loss in his single division of 294 killed
and 1436 wounded, and his list was by no means complete. The 7th Léger,
for example, figures in it for 655 casualties, while, according to
its Colonel, it had 707. Ney, according to Martinien's lists, had 129
officers killed and wounded in his infantry and cavalry, and his total
loss must have been in the neighbourhood of 3500. Poniatowski reported
a loss of 518 killed and 812 wounded; we must suppose that only the
seriously hurt were registered. Reckoning the Polish losses at 2000,
Ney's at 3500, Davout's at 5500, and adding a possible 1000 for losses
among the artillery, reserve cavalry and Guard, we have a total of
12,000. Prisoners there were few on either side.

At 11 p.m. Barclay issued orders to evacuate Smolensk. He stated in
his memoir to the Tzar that he had only intended to hold it to give
Bagration time to get well forward on the Moscow road. This end was now
attained, but the result of the order was what practically amounted to
an open mutiny. A number of general officers, headed by the Grand Duke
Constantine and by Bennigsen, who had no command and was not entitled
to be present, went to Barclay's quarters and furiously protested
against the abandonment of the city. Sir Robert Wilson received urgent
letters from many generals on the same subject. Bagration, though
he was not personally concerned in the mutinous demonstration, was
bitterly indignant at Barclay's determination. He persisted that the
First Army could easily hold its ground on the high ground behind
Smolensk, while the Second Army could pass the Dnieper and attack
Napoleon in flank. Barclay was of opinion that for the Second Army to
adventure itself over the Dnieper would mean its destruction, and that,
as regarded holding the line of the Dnieper, Napoleon had merely to
extend his right to cut the Russian communications. Furthermore, he
points out bitterly, operations of this kind, to be successful, require
harmony between commanders. Towards the mutinous deputation he acted
with firmness and dignity. He declined to withdraw his orders, and
bade them leave his presence. Foiled in the attempt to bring pressure
to bear upon him, the malcontents enlisted Wilson on their side, and
induced him, as a personal friend of Alexander, to carry a letter
to St. Petersburg demanding a new general. They also entrusted him
with a declaration on their part that if orders came from the capital
to suspend hostilities the army would regard them as not truly
expressive of the Tzar's real determination, and would continue the
struggle. All this was not altogether discreditable to the hearts of
the generals, if it did no special honour to their heads. Wilson, who
had rather hastily concluded that Barclay was not a fit person for the
post of commander-in-chief and was also, it is to be feared, unduly
influenced by his personal feelings towards Bennigsen and Bagration,
accepted the mission. The result of wasting time in this mutinous
delegation was that the retirement from Smolensk was not properly
carried out.


The north-east front abutting on the river. The illustration gives a
good impression of the deeply-sunken course of a Russian river]

Dokhturov withdrew his four divisions from the city without great
difficulty, carrying off all his guns and all but the most severely
injured of his wounded, took up the temporary bridges, broke
the permanent structure, and was safe. But in the confusion at
head-quarters no measures had been taken for properly occupying the
_tête du pont_ on the right bank. At 2 a.m. Ney ascertained that
the wall in his front was deserted and entered the city, while a
little later Davout also marched in by the Malakova Gate. The bridge
was broken, but the river was only four feet deep, and at 9 a.m. a
detachment of 600 Württembergers and Portuguese dashed through it and
surprised the _tête du pont_. The Chasseurs holding it were driven out
pell-mell. Hügel's Württemberg brigade at once followed; Ney brought up
his artillery to the river's edge and the work was maintained. Barclay
could only mask it with his rear-guard, under Baron Korff, consisting
of 7 regiments of Chasseurs and 3 of Lancers and Hussars, which
occupied the northern suburb. Davout promptly set to work to restore
the bridge.

Barclay did not at once commence his retreat. For this Clausewitz
blames him severely, but it must be remembered that on the 16th his
whole army had made a forced march, and that on the 17th part of it
had been heavily engaged. Then also he was probably still harassed and
distracted by the mutinous state of his subordinates. For the moment
his firmness appears to have crushed insubordination. The Grand Duke
was sent off to St. Petersburg under the pretext that his presence was
needed there. Otherwise Barclay's delay was perhaps due to a desire
to mislead Napoleon as to his line of retreat. In this he certainly
succeeded; but it was scarcely necessary to retain the whole of his
army in position; a well-handled rear-guard could have masked the
direction of the march.

Early on the 18th Napoleon was at the river-bank opposite Korff's
position, but then he appears to have retired to rest, after sending a
brief letter to Maret at Vilna to announce the capture of Smolensk. He
certainly may have needed sleep, and it may also be imagined that the
bulk of the army, which had fought all day and been astir all night,
was reposing. At any rate the day was one of inaction for both sides,
except at the bridge, where desultory fighting went on until nightfall.
Ney slowly reinforced the _tête du pont_ by means of boats and rafts,
but the bridge could not be completed until Korff withdrew. It does not
seem to have been ready until late at night. During the day Junot's
corps and the head of the 4th reached Smolensk.

There is some reason to believe that on this day Bagration's ugly
temper led him into the commission of what was practically an act of
treason. He took off his entire army to Solovievo, leaving only four
regiments of Cossacks at the important road junction at Lubino. As the
high-road by the river was commanded by French artillery on the south
bank, Barclay would be forced to use for his retreat the cross-road
by Gorbunovo, which reached the highway at Lubino, and certainly a
handful of light horsemen was a most inadequate guard for this vital
last point. Barclay says that he only learnt at the last moment that it
was practically uncovered. Bagration's retreat was natural, now that
Smolensk was abandoned, but in leaving no infantry at Lubino, and not
apparently informing his colleague, he committed, to say the least of
it, a very dubious action. Otherwise the incident throws light on the
bad staff-work of the Russians, and one may fairly ask why Yermólov and
St. Priest were not in close and frequent communication with each other.

Between 7 and 8 p.m. Dokhturov, with the 5th and 6th Corps, and Korff's
and Pahlen's cavalry (less detachments to rear-guard), was ordered to
march by cross-roads to Solovievo. An hour or so later the 2nd, 3rd
and 4th Corps, with Uvarov's cavalry corps, started by the Gorbunovo
track for Lubino. At this moment apparently, Barclay heard that there
were no troops at that vital point except Karpov's Cossacks. He at once
directed Major-General Tuchkov III with the Yelisabetgrad Hussars,
the Revel Regiment, the 20th and 21st Chasseurs and a horse artillery
battery to hasten thither. At 2 a.m. Korff withdrew from before

From the first everything went wrong. The retreating columns
encountered all kinds of difficulties. The roads were, of course,
unspeakable. Gullies were frequent, and often had to be bridged for
the artillery to pass, nothing having been done in advance by the
inefficient staff. The darkness and the troubles incidental to filing
some 40,000 men along a single bad track caused endless delays. To
crown all, the column missed its way and wandered into a side track,
with the result that at daybreak its rear was only 2 or 3 miles
north-east of the St. Petersburg suburb! On the withdrawal of Korff,
Davout had completed his bridge-restoring, and at 4 a.m. Ney's main
body began to pass.

Barclay, whose great military virtue was perfect self-possession in the
face of danger, ordered Prince Eugen, with as much of his division as
remained with him, to take up a position at the hamlet of Gedeonovo,
bidding him recollect that the fate of the army might depend upon his
firmness. Ney's advance-guard was soon in contact with Eugen, who held
his ground obstinately, in order to give Korff time to file past.
After a good deal of fighting Eugen was forced back, but by that time
Korff had got his 14 battalions on to the Gorbunovo-Lubino track. Eugen
then fell back to another position towards Gorbunovo, and Ney was
preparing to follow, when orders arrived directing him to incline to
his right to the Moscow road. This appears to have been about 11 a.m.

Early on the 19th Napoleon sent Eblé to Prudichevo to bridge the
Dnieper, and ordered Junot's corps to cross the river there, a
movement which would bring him to Lubino. Grouchy was sent along the
St. Petersburg road, Montbrun along that to Moscow, while Bruyère's
division of Nansouty's corps was ordered to support Ney. Evidently
Napoleon had no certainty as to the precise direction of Barclay's
retreat, and so far the Russian general's delay on the 18th had
justified itself. About 11 a.m. Davout's corps began to cross the
bridge. The Guard, now rejoined by Claparède, was in Smolensk.
Eugène and Poniatowski were in the ruins of the suburbs. The Emperor
apparently spent the morning in his cabinet, but in the afternoon
mounted and proceeded to the high ground east of the city, opposite
Sheïn Ostrog.

General Tuchkov III in his march had to contend with the same
difficulties and obstacles which impeded the main column, so that he
did not reach the Moscow road, some 4 miles west of Lubino, until
8 a.m. Toll accompanied him, and they went forward to confer with
Karpov. It soon became evident that a force of cavalry, presumably
the advance-guard of Napoleon's main body, was moving eastward from
Smolensk, and also that a strong column was passing the Dnieper at
Prudichevo. Tuchkov pushed Karpov out to observe Junot, and with his
own column took up a position across the road, where it passed over a
low swell, with his flanks covered by some small woods and his twelve
guns on the crest of the rise, and awaited events.

Soon after 10 o'clock skirmishing began on the high-road, probably
with the advanced guard of Bruyère's division, supported perhaps by
some battalions of light infantry; but it cannot have been until about
1 p.m. that the head of Ney's main column appeared, and the battle
of Lubino definitely began.[2] By this time the 3rd Corps, which was
at the head of Barclay's column, had reached Lubino. As it tramped
through, Tuchkov I detached Tornov's brigade of Grenadiers to support
his brother.

At 1 p.m. the head of Ney's infantry column began to attack. The
Russians offered a steady resistance, and it was not until three that,
seeing the heavy masses coming into line, and knowing that Junot was
threatening his left, Tuchkov decided to withdraw behind the Stragan
rivulet, some 2 miles to his rear, and about the same distance from
Lubino. Ney inferred from the obstinate resistance that Tuchkov covered
some important movement, and asked Napoleon for support. It was
probably while he was awaiting a reply that Tuchkov drew off, covered
by his cavalry, towards Lubino. Napoleon ordered Gudin's division to
reinforce Ney, sent Morand's towards the left with a view to a turning
movement, but gave Junot no directions; clearly he had no conception of
the real importance of the action.

Meanwhile the Russians had safely retired behind the Stragan, where
they were joined by Barclay, bringing with him 8 heavy guns, 7
battalions, and a mass of cavalry. The 3rd and 4th Corps had now
reached Lubino, but Baggohufwudt and Korff were far to the rear, and
the cross-road was packed with baggage and hundreds of guns, which
would be the prey of the French could they break through. But Barclay
on the field, calm, brave and resourceful, was a very different
man from the anxious and harassed Barclay of the cabinet. Without
hesitation he ranged his scanty force in order of battle, and ordered
Yermólov to bring up the 3rd and 4th Corps with all speed.

The high-road, after crossing the Stragan, passed over the southern
end of a low wooded plateau which extended northward for some 2 miles.
South of the road a stretch of marsh, in most places passable owing to
the dry weather, extended to the Dnieper. Out of it arose several low
swells of firm ground, studded with hamlets and patches of wood. One of
these lay near the road, and needed to be occupied.

On the northern plateau Barclay posted 5 infantry regiments, and to the
south of the road 2 more, with 3 battalions in reserve. Twenty guns
were posted to sweep the road. On the swell in the marsh he stationed
26 squadrons of Hussars under General Orlov-Denisov. Of infantry and
guns there were no more available, and, to make a show of support
for Orlov-Denisov, Barclay ordered Uvarov's cavalry to dismount, and
occupy a village behind the marsh on his left. At 5 o'clock, just as
the action was renewed, Konovnitzin and, a little later, Choglokov
arrived, bringing with them 7 regiments of their divisions and a
horse-battery. Choglokov's troops were ordered to support the cavalry,
and Konovnitzin's 4 regiments brought up to the centre.

At 5 p.m. Gudin's division reached the front, and Ney at once sent it
forward, Razout's advancing level with it on the left. Some Württemberg
artillery was carried forward with the advance to silence Barclay's
battery. Ledru and Scheler remained in reserve.



Fought to cover the passage of the 2nd, 3rd and 4th Russian Army Corps
from the north of Smolensk to the Moscow road at Lubino]

Comte Gudin, one of the finest officers in the French service,
conducted the attack with splendid vigour. The 7th Léger, supported
by 2 battalions of the 21st and 127th Regiments, crossed the Stragan,
and, maddened by the fall of the General, who was struck down as he led
the charge, broke the Russian infantry to the south of the road and
drove them back, threatening to pierce Barclay's thin defensive line.
Barclay at once sent forward Konovnitzin's division which, charging
resolutely, checked the advance and enabled the broken troops to rally.
General Gérard, who succeeded to Gudin's command, sent forward the 12th
Regiment, and restored the battle on the right. Meanwhile, a fierce
struggle was raging north of the road where Razout was making desperate
but fruitless attempts to carry the plateau. Attack after attack was
steadily met and repulsed.

Beyond Gudin's right, Murat was coming up from Smolensk with Nansouty's
and Montbrun's cavalry, but only his single light division (Bruyère)
could be of much service. Still farther to the right Junot was
advancing from Prudichevo, but showed great irresolution. He at first
declined to move at all, and what actually took place is very obscure.
He seems, about five o'clock, to have reconnoitred the Russian left
with his cavalry brigade and two battalions of light infantry; and
some desultory fighting ensued. His cavalry do not appear to have
gained any success, and a company of light infantry which established
itself across the marsh was destroyed by the Russian Hussars. Then,
when Choglokov's infantry was seen coming into action, Junot formed
his corps in squares opposite the Russian left. At last General Ochs
obtained permission to advance with 2 battalions of light infantry,
presently supported by Junot with 4 companies of Voltigeurs. He was
successful in driving back the Russian outposts, and with this Junot's
attack came to an end. Murat had obliged Karpov's Cossacks to retire
behind the main Russian line, and his light horsemen executed one or
two more or less successful charges on Orlov-Denisov's troopers, but
without Junot's co-operation he could do no more.

At 6 p.m. Tuchkov I had brought forward all his corps, and was himself
at Lubino with his 3 rear-guard regiments, and 3 horse batteries
which he had drawn out of the stream of retreating artillery. The
position was still critical. Baggohufwudt had not yet arrived. Korff
was still farther back; the trains were still pouring along the
road from Gedeonovo. But everyone on the Russian side was at last
thoroughly awake to the emergency. Every attempt was made to hasten
the march; and the incompetent gilded youth of the General Staff, at
whom Eugen of Württemberg sneers bitterly, were doing useful work in
saving the trains and the precious artillery. At Lubino the bridge was
utterly inadequate for the vast throng of vehicles. Prince Alexander
of Württemberg suggested that another should be made. Löwenstern
dismounted a squadron of Hussars and set them to tear down the houses,
while Alexander and Baron Salza went with a company of pioneers to
the stream; and so, by desperate exertions, a bridge was constructed,
to which a part of the mass was diverted. The tracks were all but
impassable in many places, and had to be corduroyed and made up with
fascines and boughs before the trains could be got forward. The gunners
and drivers, admirably directed and encouraged by Count Kutaïsov, made
superhuman exertions to drag the artillery along, and, to their glory,
not a gun or caisson was abandoned.

On the Stragan the battle raged with unabated fury. Barclay de Tolly
was doing his uttermost, and though the line was often shaken it was
always reformed and steadied. Some of Ledru's and Scheler's troops
endeavoured to get round the Russian right, but their attempts had
no result; the Revel Regiment and the Bodyguard Grenadiers, fighting
doggedly with the bayonet, held them off; while Konovnitzin and Tuchkov
III still successfully defended the road. About seven Ney made a
general advance, calling up his reserves and sending forward every
available man. Gérard joined in on the right, throwing in his last
three battalions. The Russian position was critical, for Barclay had
sent forward all his reserves; but at this moment Baggohufwudt's corps
at last made its appearance. Olsuviev's division, which was marching
at its head, was at once put in; and again the opposing forces closed
in deadly strife. At first it seemed as if the French would carry all
before them in their impetuous onslaught, and matters looked so dark
that Tuchkov III went himself to ask Barclay for aid--as did Windham in
1855 in the Great Redan of Sevastopol. Barclay was furious. "Go back to
your post," he stormed, "and get yourself killed! If you come back I'll
shoot you!"

Colonel Voïkov came up the road with his heavy battery just in time
to check Gérard's onslaught. Still the French held their own and,
believing themselves victorious, were slowly gaining ground; when
Eugen's division at length marched upon the field, and Tuchkov, burning
to redeem himself, led on a counter-attack. He himself was wounded and
taken at the head of the Ekaterinoslav Regiment, but Eugen at once
supported, and after a bitter struggle, in which the bayonet was freely
employed, the French were finally repulsed. It was 9 o'clock when the
roar of conflict died away in the darkness. Korff had reached the
field; the artillery and trains were on the way to Solovievo; and the
Russians had gained a great strategic victory.

Morand's division had been unable to come into action, having been
entangled in a piece of virgin forest, and was eventually recalled by
Napoleon. It has been suggested that had he been allowed to continue
his advance it would have ensured the destruction of the Russian army.
Lacking definite information as to time and topography, it is difficult
to express an opinion, but, judging from such descriptions as are
available, it seems very doubtful whether Morand could have debouched
with a force strong enough to be effective.

Barclay, having attained the object for which he had stood to fight,
had no intention of waiting to be overwhelmed by Napoleon's main army
about Smolensk. At 4 a.m. on the 20th his much-tried troops evacuated
the field, and marched 20 miles to Solovievo, where Dokhturov arrived
the same day. Bagration, having thrown three bridges over the Dnieper,
was already across. On the 21st the First Army followed, took up the
bridges, and marched for Dorogobuzh.

French writers for the most part consider Lubino, or Valutina-Gora as
they call it, a victory, but to regard it thus is merely to make a mock
of the word. A battle is not necessarily fought for the possession
of a few yards of ground. Barclay had fought at Lubino in order to
secure the safe passage of his right column into the Moscow road. This
had been successfully achieved, and very heavy loss inflicted on the
pursuers, who had failed to capture a single gun or any appreciable
amount of baggage. Napoleon regarded the battle as a mere advance-guard
engagement. Had he realised its real importance he would not have
failed to send forward everything available. Barclay must have been
disastrously defeated, and probably driven northward with the remains
of his army.

The French had on the field at Lubino about 50,000 men, of whom
perhaps 37,000 were seriously engaged. The number of Russian troops
successively brought into action was probably about 30,000. The
losses were naturally heavy. Gérard alone reported 2297 killed and
wounded, and Ney can hardly have lost less than 4000. Junot probably
overestimated his losses at 700, but, including casualties among
Murat's cavalry, the French total must have been over 7000. The losses
of the Russians were probably rather less, as they were standing on
the defensive, and for the most part succeeded in repelling attack,
nevertheless, they were very heavy--probably in the neighbourhood of
5000. Few prisoners were taken--not more than some hundreds on both

It is impossible to conclude this chapter without some remarks upon the
strategy which led up to the battles about Smolensk. It is tolerably
certain, judging from the evidence of documents, that Napoleon's
plan of marching upon Smolensk by the left bank of the Dnieper was a
preconceived one. Considered by itself, there is little to say of the
manoeuvre. It was in no way hazardous, since the left flank of the
columns moving from Vitebsk was covered by forests, and once across the
Dnieper the march was protected by the river against a Russian flank
attack. Moreover, having two lines of supply, Napoleon risked nothing
by moving his army across from one to the other.

The manoeuvre was certainly unexpected by the Russian leaders--except
perhaps by Bagration--and it is clear that it was only the firmness of
Raievski and the prompt return of the main army that saved Smolensk
from falling into Napoleon's hands.

Nevertheless, when we turn from the manoeuvre to its purpose it seems
doubtful whether it was by any means the best under the circumstances.

Napoleon's object was the bringing to bay of the Russian main army and
the crushing of it in a decisive battle. As the Russians had chosen
to take the offensive, the opportunity was apparently in his hands.
Barclay might march fast enough to force an engagement before Davout
could arrive from Orsha, but even so Napoleon could meet him with equal
or superior numbers. If Barclay returned to the defensive, Napoleon's
best manoeuvre was to advance to Poriechie, threatening the Russian
communications with Moscow. To reopen them Barclay and Bagration must
either give battle or retreat eastward in all haste, in which case
Smolensk would fall of itself. The utmost that could be expected of the
march south of the Dnieper was that the Russians might be forestalled
at Smolensk.

The modern French opinion appears to be that this forestalling was
the essence of the plan, and that Napoleon, having occupied the city,
intended to debouch from it and attack Barclay and Bagration in the

To the writer it appears that all criticism must necessarily base
itself upon the fact that Napoleon's strategy was preconceived. Before
he knew anything of the Russian plans he had practically made up his
mind to advance on Smolensk by the left bank of the Dnieper. The
offensive movement of the Russians produced no change in his resolution.

It is highly probable that his determination was taken on grounds not
purely military. He must by now have recognised that warfare in Russia
was subject to conditions which did not obtain in Germany or Austria.
His opponents were elusive; but there were certain places regarded by
soldiers and people as holy, which the popular voice would probably
force the generals to make a show of defending. He therefore resolved
to threaten Smolensk directly, believing that thereby the Russian army
would be constrained to give battle.

Even so it appears somewhat doubtful whether this end could not have
been as well attained by manoeuvring on the right bank. The advance
by the left appears to have assumed that Smolensk would be uncovered
and undefended, and that the Russian field army would be too far away
to return to its rescue. Napoleon, on this hypothesis, would have
been able to occupy it and give battle to his outmanoeuvred opponents
with all the prestige of the capture of the sacred city behind his
onset. As a fact Barclay had provided for speedy information by his
flank-guard under Neverovski, and his resolution not to move far from
Smolensk afforded the means of frustrating Napoleon's strategy. That he
only arrived in the nick of time hardly affects the discussion, since
his obsession about an attack from the direction of Poriechie delayed
him for a day. On the other hand, Napoleon's hesitation, owing to the
appearance of Bagration's army at Katan, also caused him to lose a
day, during which Barclay was able to arrive.

According to Barclay's memoir to the Tzar he had no intention of
wasting his army in the defence of Smolensk, a place of no military
value, and merely held it in order to allow Bagration time to occupy
Solovievo. Bagration and the majority of the Russian generals appear
to have expected that he would have made it the centre of the Russian
operations. It is, of course, possible that Barclay, harassed and
perplexed, did make some conditional promise as to defending Smolensk
should a favourable opportunity offer. General Okunev--who may perhaps
voice the views of Paskievich--apparently thinks that it could have
been held. But it must be said that as the Russians' line of retreat
was in extension of their left flank such a policy would have been
hazardous at best. There seems every reason to believe that Barclay's
ideas were sound; what he lacked was commanding strength of character
to enforce them on his unruly officers.

Napoleon's assault upon Smolensk is very difficult to account for: and
led to little but waste of human life.


[Footnote 1: This is my own explanation of what happened. Bagration
says that he reached Smolensk at 10 a.m.; but Raievski declares that
the leading brigade of the 8th Corps did not arrive until past 6 p.m.,
and speaks of Bagration coming later. Either the march of the 8th
Corps was much delayed, or it moved with amazing slowness under the
circumstances. Seeing what Bagration had written to Raievski, it is
difficult to suppose that he would not make all speed to his rescue. It
is only possible to reconcile the conflicting statements as to the hour
of Bagration's arrival at Smolensk by such an assumption as is made in
the text. For the rest it must be admitted that Bagration's despatches
are often unreliable, and he naturally endeavoured to present himself
in the best light. When there is a conflict of testimony between him
and Raievski, I prefer to believe the latter.]

[Footnote 2: Only thus is it possible to reconcile the statements of
the Russian historians that the action began at 10 a.m. with that of
Eugen of Württemberg, that he did not withdraw from Gedeonovo until
about that hour. Ney seems to have followed him to his second defensive
position before he was recalled, which brings us to 11 a.m. at least;
and then time must be allowed for the march of nearly 6 miles to
Tuchkov's front.]



It has been seen that when King Jerome resigned his command, the
5th and 8th Corps went to reinforce Davout, Latour-Maubourg to
observe Bobruisk, while the 7th Corps returned to Slonim. Reynier
was instructed to take the place of Schwarzenberg in guarding the
frontier of the Grand Duchy of Warsaw, while the latter marched on
Minsk. Reynier himself was convinced that his corps was far too weak
for the prescribed duty, while he had better information than his
master of Tormazov's real strength. Nevertheless he endeavoured to
carry out Napoleon's orders. On the 19th he ordered Klengel's infantry
brigade and a regiment of cavalry to take the place of an Austrian
detachment at Kobrin. On the same day Schwarzenberg informed Napoleon
that Tormazov had some 30,000 men at Lutsk. The Emperor, however, was
sceptical. On the 22nd he ordered Reynier to enter Volhynia, saying
that Tormazov's "army" was merely a collection of reserve battalions.
On the same day he told Davout that Tormazov had only 8000 men of 3rd
battalions. The movements which he had ordered continued, and by the
24th the Austrians were about Slonim, on the way to Minsk, while the
7th Corps, moving in the opposite direction, was approaching Kobrin,
some 30 miles east of Brest-Litovsk.

Napoleon's information was hopelessly inaccurate. So far he could
not be accountable for the unforeseen situation which was now to
disclose itself. But his refusal to believe Schwarzenberg and Reynier
is distinctly blameworthy, and can only be attributed to the fatal
optimism which had now become fixed in him.

General Tormazov, when hostilities broke out, commanded an army which
was neither concentrated nor complete in its organisation. Three
infantry divisions, a brigade of combined Grenadier companies, 3
regiments of Hussars, and a cavalry corps 36 squadrons strong, were
scattered over western Volhynia. General Sacken's reserve troops--12
depleted battalions and 24 squadrons--were at Zaslavl and Staroï
Konstantinov near the frontier of Podolia, and the irregulars were
scattered along the Austrian and Polish borders. It was not until the
middle of July that a respectable force was at last concentrated near

Tormazov's original task was the defence of Volhynia, but Napoleon
showed no intention of making any eccentric movements in that
direction. On hearing of Bagration's retreat on Bobruisk, he thought
that he himself might be obliged to fall back towards Kiev, in order
not entirely to lose touch with the Second Army. By the middle of
July, however, the situation became clearer. The allied troops were
pouring along the Warsaw-Smolensk road, and there were only few and
small detachments guarding the Polish frontier. He therefore determined
to invade the Grand Duchy of Warsaw by way of Lublin; and General
Lambert, his cavalry commander, had already crossed the Bug, when he
was recalled.

On July 17th instructions reached Tormazov from Alexander to advance
northward against the flanks and rear of the forces that were opposed
to Bagration. It is probable that this manoeuvre promised more
immediate results than the contemplated advance on Warsaw. At the same
time it is by no means certain that Tormazov was wrong in his original
decision. The capture of Warsaw would have been a terrific shock to
Napoleon's prestige. The Russians could not have held it long, but
they would have been able to destroy the depôts there collected, and
might have cut up Reynier's corps had Napoleon, as was probable, urged
it in overhasty pursuit of an enemy whose strength he underestimated.
In that case Napoleon would have been obliged to divert against him not
merely Schwarzenberg's Austrians, but perhaps also the 8th Corps. In
any case he would have been forced to employ some of his new formations
in the rear to meet the irruption.

The plan now imposed upon Tormazov had the advantage that it must,
in the nature of things, call back Schwarzenberg from his march to
reinforce Davout. On the other hand, it involved passing the Pinsk
Marshes, which would oppose a dangerous barrier to retreat in case of
a reverse; and the chances of crushing the 7th Corps were minimised,
since a few concentric marches would unite Reynier and Schwarzenberg.

General Sacken with his reserves had been left in eastern Volhynia;
some of his troops were detached to strengthen the force at Mozyr.
On July 22 Tormazov ordered Lambert to leave General Kruchov, with a
brigade of dragoons and 2 regiments of Cossacks, to observe the Polish
frontier, and with 4 battalions, 16 squadrons, 5 Cossack regiments and
6 guns, to march by both banks of the Bug upon Brest-Litovsk. Four
battalions and 7 squadrons, under Major-General Melissino, were to make
a demonstration towards Pinsk, while the corps of Kamenski and Markov
advanced upon Brest-Litovsk and Kobrin. Tormazov's strength, exclusive
of Kruchov, was probably about 36,000 men, with 144 guns. He was
consequently nearly three times as strong as Reynier's corps; but the
latter could be sustained within a few days by 30,000 Austrians.

On the 24th Reynier's main body was about Bezdizh on the
Brest-Litovsk-Pinsk high-road. Klengel's brigade occupied Kobrin. Two
squadrons of cavalry were at Brest, and another detachment was on
the road to Pinsk. Reynier's small corps was thus spread out over a
line of 80 miles. Reynier appears to have realised his danger, and
provided against it to the best of his ability by keeping his main body
together. He was perhaps to blame in detaching Klengel, but in justice
it must be said that his duties were out of all proportion to his

On the 24th Lambert expelled the Saxon cavalry from Brest-Litovsk.
Melissino drove in the outposts on Reynier's left, and occupied Pinsk,
expelling its Austrian garrison and capturing a gun. Reynier was thus
alarmed on both flanks, and doubted in which direction to turn. Early
on the 27th Tormazov's advanced guard, under Major-General Chaplitz,
approached Kobrin from the south, while at the same time Lambert's
cavalry came up from the west. His infantry, who were fatigued by hard
marching, he had left in the rear.

Klengel's brigade consisted of only about 2600 men with 8 guns.
Obviously he could make no effective resistance to the Russian army;
but he considered himself bound by Reynier's orders to defend Kobrin
to the last extremity. Reynier's comment was that, being the advanced
guard of the corps, the brigade should have retired when it became
obvious that it ran the risk of being surrounded. It appears to be a
somewhat uncertain point among military men as to how far detachment
commanders are justified in departing from the letter of their orders.
On the morning of the 27th Klengel's line of retreat on Pruzhani was
certainly open. On the other hand, his corps commander would probably
come by the Pinsk road; and he appears to have made at least one
attempt to break through in that direction, which gives some index to
what was passing in his mind. By midday Lambert had cut the road to
Pruzhani, and the brigade was surrounded. The Saxons were driven by
overwhelming numbers from their hasty entrenchments into the town, and
after a gallant resistance, and having expended all their ammunition,
were forced, about 2 p.m., to surrender. They had lost 76 killed and
182 wounded, including 13 officers. Seventy-six officers and 2382 rank
and file were captured, with 8 guns and 4 standards.[3] Reynier's
advance-guard had only reached Horodetz, about 11 miles east of Kobrin,
when it was met by fugitives who bore tidings of the disaster.

Tormazov, with diplomatic courtesy, complimented the Saxon officers on
their really creditable defence, and returned them their swords. He
could not, however, push his advance. His commissariat was defective
and supplies were running short. He had also his prisoners to dispose
of. His infantry were fatigued with hard marching on execrable roads.
He therefore was obliged to halt for two days, which Reynier utilised
to effect his retreat. He appealed for help to Schwarzenberg, who
informed Napoleon that Reynier was too weak to resist Tormazov, who
was estimated to be 40,000 strong, and that he must perforce turn
back to his rescue from Nesvizh. On August 2nd he reached Polonka, 18
miles from Slonim, now occupied by Reynier. Tormazov, leaving Kobrin
on the 30th, occupied Pruzhani and Antopol and pushed out detachments;
while Kruchov's force crossed the Bug and made reconnaissances towards
Warsaw. The Poles were panic-stricken; and Loison, the Governor of
Königsberg, thought it necessary to advance towards Bielostok with
nearly the whole of his force--some 10,000 men. More than this Tormazov
could not do. He was still very short of supplies; every march in
advance took him farther from his base, and he had the Pinsk Marshes in
his rear.

Napoleon, probably with some misgivings, informed Schwarzenberg on July
31st that he was to support Reynier according to his information,
which, as he was on the spot, must necessarily be better than that of
the Emperor. On August 2nd he placed the 7th Corps under his orders,
and instructed him to march against Tormazov and drive him into
Volhynia. The Government at Warsaw meanwhile was making desperate
efforts to form a field force at Zamosc, under General Kosinski.

On August 3rd the Austrians and Saxons were in close communication,
and on the 4th the united force began to advance. Tormazov's advanced
guards were attacked on August 8th and driven back, except at
Pruzhani, from which Lambert was only expelled on the 10th after a
well-contested rear-guard action. Tormazov, finding his outposts
everywhere assailed by superior forces, ordered Markov and Kamenski to
Gorodeczna, about half-way from Pruzhani to Kobrin. Lambert and Markov
united there in the night of the 10th-11th, and next day Kamenski also
arrived. Melissino's detachment and the other advanced guards, under
Generals Chaplitz and Prince Khovanski, could not rejoin under some
days. Tormazov therefore had only 24 battalions, 36 squadrons, and 3
regiments of Cossacks, amounting with artillery to about 21,000 men. In
artillery, however, he was strong, having 84 pieces, a large proportion
of which were heavy.

The Russian position was a fairly strong one, if defended by adequate
numbers. The Pruzhani-Kobrin road passes over a low plateau, at the
foot of which flows a marshy stream. This plateau is some three miles
long and a little less in breadth. It extends roughly east and west,
its eastern extremity being opposite Gorodeczna. West of it is a valley
about a mile in breadth, beyond which rises a second plateau, thickly
wooded, through which another road leads from the village of Cherechev
to join that to Kobrin some miles south-west of Gorodeczna. The eastern
end of the plateau was also shut in by woods. Besides the causeway
across the marsh at Gorodeczna, there was a second at Poddubno about
three miles above, and a third a mile farther on at the Cherechev road.
Obviously all should have been guarded; but only that at Gorodeczna
was actually held. The reasons for this extraordinary oversight are
not clear. It is possible that Tormazov expected a turning movement on
the right rather than the left. It is also possible that he did not
intend to fight a general action, but only a rear-guard engagement,
in order to gain time for Chaplitz, Khovanski and Melissino to close
up. Apparently also he considered that Schwarzenberg and Reynier
were following him in one column on the Kobrin road. In any case he
merely kept the bulk of his force opposite Gorodeczna. His opponents
were moving in two columns, the Austrians upon Gorodeczna, Reynier
with the Saxons on the right towards Poddubno. Schwarzenberg had made
considerable detachments to guard his communications, but his entire
force can hardly have numbered less than 36,000 men, including 12,000
Saxons, with 96 guns.

Reynier pointed out to Schwarzenberg that Tormazov's negligence
afforded opportunities for a flanking movement. Schwarzenberg assented
and supported him with Siegenthal's division, Hesse-Homburg's brigade
of Bianchi's division, and a brigade of light cavalry, while with the
rest of his forces he observed the main Russian force. Tormazov was
drawn up in three lines on the Kobrin road, facing Gorodeczna, Markov's
12 battalions in front line, Kamenski's 12 (temporarily commanded by
Prince Cherbatov, Kamenski being ill) a verst to the rear, Lambert with
the cavalry behind Cherbatov.

In the night of the 11th-12th a Saxon detachment seized the Poddubno
dyke. Tormazov apparently heard of this about 9 a.m. on the 12th and
promptly sent Cherbatov with 10 battalions, 2 dragoon regiments and 24
guns to Poddubno. This appeared temporarily to secure the left, but
about noon Siegenthal arrived and threatened a direct attack, while
Reynier, who had moved the bulk of his corps along the Cherechev
road, debouched from the woods and menaced the Russian rear. Tormazov
at first simply fronted Cherbatov to the left, leaving the guns and
a single infantry regiment at Poddubno, and covered the new front
with the fire of 24 more guns brought up from the reserve. It soon,
however, became evident that the turning movement was being executed by
considerable forces, and that Cherbatov could not withstand it unaided.
Tormazov thereupon called up Markov with 8 battalions to prolong
Cherbatov's line, and Lambert with 4 battalions and 24 squadrons to
cover the left flank. Lambert deployed across the Cherechev road,
barring it against the farther advance of General Zechmeister with his
Austrian cavalry and Saxon infantry. Schwarzenberg on his side, instead
of attacking the weak detachment now before him at Gorodeczna, sent
another infantry brigade and one of cavalry to the right, and himself
proceeded thither.

At 3 a.m. Frimont's Austrian cavalry and Trautenberg's infantry at
Gorodeczna were demonstrating against weak detachments, while nearly
the whole Russian army had faced to the left and rear. Tormazov,
considering that the extension of the hostile line afforded an
opportunity for piercing it, developed a fierce attack by Cherbatov's
infantry upon Sahr's Saxon brigade, which was driven back, barely
saving its artillery from capture by the Russian dragoons. To
extricate it General Bianchi led forward Lilienberg's brigade, while
Schwarzenberg, now at Poddubno, ordered Hesse-Homburg's across the
stream, and Siegenthal sent forward part of his division. By these
combined efforts the advance of the Russians was brought to a stand and
finally converted into a retreat. The brigades of Lilienberg and Sahr
moved forward together, Hesse-Homburg joining in on the left, Lecoq's
Saxon division prolonging the line to the right, while Zechmeister,
reinforced by Froelich's Austrian and Gablenz's Saxon cavalry,
renewed his attacks on Lambert. The latter had hitherto held his own
with considerable success, but was now driven back and forced to seek
shelter behind Markov's line. Night ended the conflict, and under cover
of darkness Tormazov rallied his detachments and retreated on Kobrin,
covered by a rear-guard, under Lambert. At Teveli, 7 miles from the
battle-field, Chaplitz rejoined and took over rear-guard duty from


Fought between Napoleon's detached right wing (Austrians and Saxons)
under Prince Schwarzenberg against the Russian Army of Volhynia]

The Russian loss appears to have been about 3000 men out of a total of
about 18,000 actively engaged: of these perhaps 500 were prisoners.
That of the allies was probably a little less. Schwarzenberg estimated
the loss of the Austrians at about 1300, of whom 865 were in Bianchi's
division. Reynier only admitted 931 casualties.

Tormazov did not stay his retreat at Kobrin, but continued on his way
southward, intending to make for the Styr and stand on the defensive
behind it. His resolution was undoubtedly wise. With Chaplitz's
and Khovanski's troops he had in hand 30,000 men, and might abide
the chances of another battle. But his force was too small to rout
Schwarzenberg's, and a heavy defeat might leave Admiral Chichagov, who
was at last on the way from Bukharest, too weak to face Napoleon's
right wing. On the other hand, by retreating on Lutsk he would lessen
the distance between himself and the Admiral, would be in closer
communication with his base at Kiev and Sacken's reserves, and his
position behind the marshy Styr might well induce the cautious Austrian
general and his half-hearted or openly disaffected lieutenants to call
a halt.

On the 13th there was some rear-guard fighting on the Kobrin road,
but it was not serious, and Tormazov continued his retreat to Kovel,
which he reached on the 24th. There he apparently would have stood
firm, but Schwarzenberg threatening to turn his left he abandoned his
position and marched towards Lutsk, where he arrived on the 29th.
Schwarzenberg's pursuit was not very energetic, owing to scarcity of
supplies and the difficulty of the Pinsk fenlands.

Tormazov therefore found himself at the beginning of September in the
same position which he had occupied five weeks before. His strategy
had been far from faultless: in particular his detachments previous to
the battle of Gorodeczna seem to have been unnecessarily large. His
tactics at Gorodeczna had been bad at the outset, however much his
boldness and energy may have compensated for his earlier carelessness.
Still, whatever his faults, he had inflicted a heavier loss than he
had sustained, and had drawn upon himself, away from the main theatre
of war, the whole of the Austrian auxiliary army and the 7th Corps,
as well as Kosinski's Polish column from Zamosc. Moreover, Admiral
Chichagov's advanced guard was only fourteen or fifteen marches away,
and might be relied upon to join him by the middle of September.

It has already been seen that when Barclay evacuated Drissa he had left
Count Wittgenstein to cover the road to St. Petersburg. Wittgenstein
had for his principal bases of operations the ancient towns of Pskov
and Velikii Novgorod; his advanced depôt was Sebezh, some 60 miles
from Polotsk, on the road to Pskov. In addition to his own 1st Corps
he was given the bulk of the depôt troops at Drissa and Dünaburg, and
his artillery was strengthened by a heavy battery. The 18 reserve
battalions hardly mustered 5700 bayonets, but the 15 depôt squadrons
could furnish 1900 sabres and lances, and included those of the
Imperial Guard, some of the finest in Europe. Wittgenstein's fighting
strength, after the departure of Barclay, totalled some 29,000 men,
of whom 4500 were cavalry and Cossacks, with 108 guns. Of this total
10 reserve battalions and 4 squadrons, about 3700 strong, were at
Dünaburg; the rest were united under Wittgenstein's immediate command.

The 1st Corps contained in its staff a considerable foreign element.
Wittgenstein, his chief-of-staff, Major-General D'Auvray, and the
Quartermaster-General Diebich, were all Germans. Wittgenstein himself
was a man of no special talent, but active and energetic, and in the
prime of life. D'Auvray was an older man, but possessed plenty of
vigour, and was a good theoretical officer, though somewhat deficient
in practical experience of warfare. Colonel Diebich, a Prussian,
only twenty-seven years of age, was probably the most intellectually
distinguished of the three. His enduring fame as "Zabalkanski"--the
Balkan-Passer--dates from the year 1829, when he commanded in chief
against the Turks. For the present all that need be observed is that
the command of the Russian army of the Düna was in vigorous hands.
Clausewitz notes that D'Auvray, especially, could "lay about him" at
need; and doubtless the process was often necessary in dealing with the
gallant but amateurish and frequently indolent Russian officers.

From Dünaburg to Riga, a distance of some 130 miles, there were
practically no Russian troops. In the great Baltic port and its
neighbourhood there were 30 depôt battalions, 8 squadrons, and some
Cossacks and field artillery, which, with garrison troops, totalled
perhaps 14,000 men, sufficient to defend the fortifications and
outlying places, but not to furnish any considerable detachment for the
field. Riga was furthermore defended by Russian and English gunboats
and bomb-brigs; and naval assistance to almost any amount was available
from the British Baltic fleet, should it be necessary. Riga was
practically secure against any but a very large army. Its commander,
Lieutenant-General Essen I, was an officer of no great ability, and in
poor health.

The Russian forces therefore available for the defence of Kurland and
the line of the Düna amounted in all to perhaps 43,000 men, but could
be reinforced to nearly double that number by militia and regulars, the
latter partly depôt troops, but chiefly belonging to Count Steingell's
army of Finland, soon rendered disposable by the conclusion of peace
with Sweden.

Towards Riga Napoleon had directed the so-called 10th Corps, under
Marshal Macdonald. It had, in fact, as Macdonald complained, no proper
corps organisation or administration; and consisted of two distinct
bodies--Grandjean's Polish and German division, formerly attached to
the 1st Corps, and the bulk of the Prussian contingent under General
Grawert. The operations of the corps were languid; it certainly
was not strong enough to besiege Riga; and Napoleon paid curiously
little attention to it. It would almost seem as if his real object
in constituting it at the last moment was to have the notoriously
disaffected Prussian contingent accompanied and watched by a competent
force of troops drawn from states which he regarded as devoted to him.

The 10th Corps, having swept the right bank of the Niemen, concentrated
on Rossieni, whence it set out on July 8th for Riga, Grawert advancing
directly on the port by way of Mitau, while Grandjean's division,
accompanied by Macdonald, moved on the right. Before the 30,000 or
32,000 men of the 10th Corps the Russian detachments in Kurland
were helpless, and fell back at all points into Riga. By the 18th
the invading forces were ranged along the Aa river, which passes by
Mitau, the capital of Kurland, and, flowing nearly parallel to the
Düna, enters the Baltic some 20 miles west of Dünamunde. Mitau, Bausk,
and the other towns along the Aa were occupied, and the Prussians
reached out with their left to the sea. Essen could form for field
operations only a force of 8 depôt battalions, 8 squadrons, a battery
and some Cossacks--4500 men at most, with 10 guns--which he sent under
Lieutenant-General Lewis towards Bausk. Lewis was too late to defend
Mitau or Bausk, and took up a defensive position at Eckau between the
latter place and Riga. Against him Grawert advanced on July 19th
with 7 battalions, 4 squadrons and 4 batteries--5000 men and 32 guns.
Lewis was beaten with a loss of over 600 prisoners besides killed and
wounded, and driven back upon Riga. The Prussians moved up nearer to
the city, and Essen, on July 22nd, losing his head, ordered the suburbs
to be fired. There was absolutely no need for this reckless step.
Macdonald had not a siege gun within reach. The misery and destitution
occasioned were, of course, terrible; the mere immediate material loss
is said to have been valued at 15,000,000 paper rúbles (about £600,000).

Macdonald, after Eckau, moved with Grandjean's division towards
Jakobstädt, and established his head-quarters there on the 22nd. His
advance-guard of 4 Polish battalions, under Prince Radziwil, moved down
the left bank of the Düna on Dünaburg. Radziwil occupied the place on
the 30th and 31st, the garrison having been withdrawn by Wittgenstein,
and on August 8th Macdonald arrived with the rest of Grandjean's
division. He blew up the half-finished fortifications, and destroyed
all the artillery, ammunition and tools which he could not carry away.
De Chambray blames him for this, saying that he should have retained
them for the siege of Riga; he also criticises him for not crossing the
Düna and striking at Wittgenstein's communications. It seems, however,
clear that Macdonald's appointed task was the siege of Riga; and he
obviously could not undertake independent operations without Napoleon's
order. His position, as he told Oudinot, was very difficult. His force
was scattered over a wide extent of country, and in the absence of any
proper staff he was burdened with petty details.



Commander of the 2nd French Army Corps

From the painting by Robert Lefèvre at Versailles]

On August 7th Essen made an attack on Schlock, the port at the mouth
of the Aa, with 6 British and 13 Russian sloops and gunboats, and
about 1000 troops, all under General Lewis. Schlock was taken, but the
light craft could not pass the Prussian batteries on the Aa, and
Lewis abandoned Schlock and withdrew.

Oudinot, after his fruitless attack on the bridge-head of Dünaburg on
July 13th, moved up the left bank of the Düna to join in the general
advance on Vitebsk. He also endeavoured to render the works at Drissa
indefensible. Wittgenstein, realising that Macdonald and Oudinot could
not easily combine their operations, at first resolved to attack the
2nd Corps as it passed up the Düna; but on receiving a report that
Macdonald was bridging the river at Jakobstädt he took up a position
near Razitzi (? Pazitzi), about 16 miles from Druia on the road to
Sebezh, and awaited events.

Oudinot, moving up the left bank of the Düna, left Merle's division,
chiefly Swiss, and Corbineau's brigade of light cavalry to watch the
river about Drissa, and with the rest of the 2nd Corps and Doumerc's
Cuirassier division, occupied Polotsk on the 26th. On the 28th, leaving
a battalion at Polotsk, he advanced on Sebezh to cut Wittgenstein's
communications with St. Petersburg. He crossed the Drissa at Sivokhino
and, early on the 30th, reached the hamlet of Kliastitzi, some 34
miles from Sebezh. As he was very badly informed as to Wittgenstein's
movements he decided to halt and send out reconnaissances.

Meanwhile Wittgenstein, informed of Oudinot's advance, had determined
to attack without delay. On the 30th he was within easy reach of
Oudinot's left flank; and about four in the afternoon his advance-guard
came into contact with Legrand's division at Jakubovo, about 2 miles
west of Kliastitzi, posted on a narrow front between two woods.

Wittgenstein had with him the whole 1st Corps and 6 depôt battalions,
in all about 21,000 men and 96 guns, organised into a vanguard, under
Kulnev, 2 infantry divisions under Major-Generals Berg and Sazonov, and
a mixed division commanded by Major-General Kakhovski.

Kulnev, a fiery cavalry officer, at once attacked Legrand, sending to
Wittgenstein for reinforcements. Legrand was posted between the woods
on a front of apparently only 800 yards, half of which was occupied by
the mansion and hamlet of Jakubovo. Verdier and Doumerc were on the
main road, there being no room wherein to deploy. An obstinate action
ensued as reinforcements were thrown in on both sides and without
any special success for either. Legrand's narrow front, though it
enabled him to concentrate his infantry, only permitted him to bring
into action twelve guns as against 36 Russian pieces. On the 31st
Wittgenstein, having collected his whole force, ordered a general
attack. The fighting was very fierce. Jakubovo, defended by the 26th
Léger, was taken and retaken; but on the whole the French held their
own, and there was no sound reason for the retreat which Oudinot
ordered. He says that he feared for the security of his left flank,
threatened by an enemy twice as strong as himself! This latter idea
is scarcely in accordance with his confident advance upon Sebezh.
At any rate, he evacuated Jakubovo and retreated across the Nitcha,
southward to Sivokhino, pursued and harassed by the Russians who, not
unnaturally, claimed the affair as a complete victory. Wittgenstein had
actually engaged 18 battalions. He claimed to have taken 900 prisoners
and much baggage, but the estimates of the French losses in the Journal
of the 1st Corps are greatly exaggerated. The Russians, also, must have
lost severely in the fierce fighting about the mansion of Jakubovo; and
Oudinot claimed 500 prisoners.

At Sivokhino Oudinot was rejoined by Merle's division, coming from
Drissa. He deliberately left the ford unguarded; and took up a position
a little to the southward at the hamlet of Oboiarzina, with his flanks
thrown forward and his whole force skilfully concealed in the woods and
gullies with which the country abounded.

At daybreak on the 1st of August the impetuous Kulnev was leading the
pursuit. He had with him some companies of sharpshooters, 7 infantry
battalions, 6 squadrons and a horse battery, with which he crossed
the ford and pushed forward into the sort of _cul-de-sac_ formed by
Oudinot's position to the southward. The Marshal had more than 40 guns
ranged in a deep curve round the advancing Russian columns. As they
opened fire Kulnev realised that something more serious than a mere
rear-guard action was toward, and requested Sazonov, whose division
was following, to support him. Sazonov sent forward the Tula Regiment
and a heavy battery at once, but it was too late. The vanguard was
overwhelmed by a furious cross cannonade, and broke before the charge
of Verdier's and Legrand's infantry. The reinforcements were swept away
in the rout; and the Russians poured back through the ford in a wild
crowd of struggling men and horses, amid which the French fire made
terrible havoc. Kulnev strove desperately to repair the consequences of
his fatal impetuosity, but in vain. He was following the retreat when
a cannon-ball shattered both his legs, ending at once his despair and
his life. He bade his aides carry away his orders and insignia--"lest
these French triumph over a Russian general"; and so passed a fiery and
enthusiastic spirit who might have rendered his country good service.

Verdier's division, driving before it the broken Russians, pressed
through the ford in hot pursuit. Wittgenstein, who was advancing with
his whole force, sent on Major-Generals Prince Iachvil and Helfreich to
rally the vanguard, and took up a position at the hamlet of Golovitzi
to sustain it, with 48 guns ranged before his line. Berg's division was
on the right and Kosakovki's on the left. As soon as the remains of the
vanguard had passed behind the batteries they opened a heavy cannonade,
and Berg and Kozakovski moved forward to the attack. Wittgenstein's
second line, under Sazonov, also moved forward, and as the leading
divisions diverged somewhat in their advance some of its battalions
filled up the gap thus opened. Verdier, assailed by a greatly superior
force, was unable to bear up against it; and was driven back, fighting
hard but losing heavily, to Sivokhino, where he repassed the Drissa,
covered by Legrand's division.

The losses of the 2nd Corps from July 30th to August 1st amounted
according to Oudinot's returns (which appear trustworthy) to 464
officers and men killed, 2925 wounded, and 1596 prisoners and missing.
This was certainly a gaping chasm in an effective strength of about
28,000 men; but the Russians admitted 4300 casualties, and again there
was no solid reason for the French retreat upon Polotsk next day.
Napoleon was greatly annoyed, and expressed his angry astonishment at
the movement, which appeared to him entirely unnecessary. He ordered
Oudinot to resume the offensive and, on August 4th, directed St. Cyr,
with the 6th Corps, to reinforce him.

Wittgenstein on August 1st had been wounded, and had handed over the
command to D'Auvray. The really indecisive nature of the fighting is
shown by the fact that no attempt was made to pursue the French. On the
contrary, D'Auvray withdrew by his right towards Dünaburg, in order
to rally Hamen's detachment, which was now to join the 1st Corps. On
August 7th he once more took position at Razitzi. He decided to cross
the Düna and to destroy Macdonald's small force at Dünaburg; and to
this end was already bridging the river, when he was recalled by a
fresh advance of Oudinot from Polotsk.

St. Cyr, with the suffering remains of the Bavarian infantry and
artillery--about 12,000 bayonets--reached Polotsk on August 7. Apart
from his feeling that his troops were being sacrificed, he was angry
at his subordination to Oudinot. St. Cyr had, in truth, a far better
right to the Marshal's bâton, and nothing but Napoleon's dislike for
him had hitherto deprived him of it. Oudinot, leaving the 6th Corps
to follow, started westward from Polotsk with the 2nd on the 7th, and
on the 9th reached Valéinzi, 8 miles from Drissa. Next day D'Auvray
marched from Razitzi; and on the 10th the Russian advance-guard, now
under Helfreich, collided with Oudinot's advance, consisting of his
light cavalry, supported by the 11th Léger, at Svolna, a few miles
north of Valéinzi. D'Auvray arrived with his main body on the 11th.
Expecting that Oudinot would advance in full force, he at first stood
on the defensive, but, finding that the bulk of the 2nd Corps remained
inactive at Valéinzi, attacked the advance-guard and drove it back.
Thereupon, with curious timidity, Oudinot once more, on the 13th,
retrograded to Polotsk, where he arrived on the morning of the 16th. On
the 13th Hamen joined the Russian 1st Corps, and next day Wittgenstein
resumed the command.

Polotsk, a place of much importance in the struggles between Poland
and Russia during the 15th and 16th centuries, lies on the right bank
of the Düna, at the point where it is joined by the little river
Polota. The country around was in 1812 wooded to within a few miles of
the town. Polotsk was traversed from north-west to south-east by the
Riga-Vitebsk high-road, to which that from St. Petersburg united itself
some miles out. From the south-west the Vilna road reached the town
across the Düna. A fourth road left the Riga highway on the right a
little way from Polotsk, and ran north-eastwards to Nevel.

The advance-guard of the Russians came in contact with the French
outposts during the afternoon of the 16th, and the sound of the firing
broke up a council-of-war which Oudinot had called to consider the

During the evening the French troops took up position. Oudinot's plan
of action is difficult to understand. He left nearly the whole of
Verdier's and Merle's divisions and the bulk of his cavalry on the
left bank of the Düna. On the right bank, along the Polota, stood St.
Cyr's weak corps, with its right at the village of Spas, about a mile
from Polotsk. Wrede's division was in front line and Deroy in reserve.
To the left of the Bavarians were Legrand's division, 1 regiment of
Verdier's, and Corbineau's cavalry brigade. Oudinot's whole force was
over 35,000 strong, with about 130 guns.

The Russian 1st Corps and the reserve troops attached to it--the latter
now combined into regiments--totalled about 23,000 or 24,000 men and 99
guns. It was distributed in three mixed divisions, under Major-Generals
Berg, Sazonov and Kakhovski, and two mixed brigades commanded
respectively by Major-General Helfreich and Colonel Vlastov.[4]

Wittgenstein and his staff considered that Oudinot's position about
Polotsk was too strong, defended as it was by superior forces, to be
attacked, and decided to confine themselves to a vigorous demonstration
upon Spas to cover the bridging of the Düna and a raid on Oudinot's
communications. Early on the 17th, covered by Helfreich and Vlastov,
the Russian main body debouched from the woods and deployed. The
divisions as usual were broken up in the line of battle. In general,
however, it may be said that Vlastov's detachment formed the extreme
left opposite Spas, and thence Berg's division and Helfreich's vanguard
continued the line towards the Düna. Sazonov and Kakhovski were in

Vlastov, and part of Berg's division, under the general direction of
Prince Iachvil, attacked Spas, which was gallantly defended by the
Bavarians. To sustain the attack Wittgenstein was obliged to direct
to the left the rest of Berg's division, replacing it by only two
battalions of his second line. Oudinot thereupon ordered Legrand to
attack the weakened Russian centre, but after some sharp fighting
this was repelled by the advance of fresh battalions from Sazonov's
division. Legrand renewed his attacks, but was again forced to retire,
but to repulse him nearly the whole of Sazonov's division had to be
employed. Around Spas a furious conflict raged all day, the Russian
attacks being repelled time after time by a much smaller force of
Bavarians. The outlook for Oudinot was entirely promising; by night
almost all Wittgenstein's army had been engaged and had been held at
bay by the division of Legrand, about half of Wrede's and one regiment
of Verdier's. All this time two strong divisions were inactive south
of the Düna. It was probably fortunate that in the evening Oudinot was
severely wounded and forced to transfer the command to the stronger
hands of St. Cyr.

The latter general made up his mind that the badly shaken morale of
his army, no less than the Emperor's interests, imperatively demanded
a victory, and determined to give battle. But he was too wary to
deprive himself of the advantage of allowing the Russians to waste
their strength against his defensive position before himself taking
the offensive. He therefore waited during the morning of the 18th for
Wittgenstein to come on. The latter, on his side, having driven Oudinot
again into Polotsk, decided to withdraw, his mission being to defend
the St. Petersburg road, and greatly overestimating the strength of the
force opposed to him. His troops were to commence their march at 9 p.m.

St. Cyr during the morning made a parade of retiring his trains and
reserve parks through the town towards Vitebsk, while Merle and Verdier
were brought nearer to it as though to cover an evacuation. Some of
the cavalry also defiled along the southern bank of the Düna with
their horses laden with forage. These devices do not appear to have
tricked the Russian staff into the belief that Polotsk was about to be
abandoned; but they did give it the impression that there was no fear
of an attack. The Russian army lay bivouacked in the order in which
it had fought on the 17th, and head-quarters were at the hamlet of
Prizmenitza, only half a mile from Spas.

St. Cyr, finding that Wittgenstein did not show any sign of attacking,
and doubtless marking the obvious unpreparedness of the Russians,
decided to take the offensive. About 2 p.m. Verdier's division began
to cross the Düna, screened from the sight of the Russians by the
houses of Polotsk and the high banks of the Polota. Merle, Doumerc, and
Castex's light cavalry followed. Meanwhile at Spas Deroy's division
relieved Wrede's, and a battery of 31 guns was massed at the village.

St. Cyr's plan, as he defines it, was to smash Wittgenstein's line by a
heavy and concentrated attack of four infantry divisions advancing at
the double, Wrede's Bavarians leading on the right, Deroy to their left
rear, Legrand and Verdier in echelon on the left of Deroy, while the
cavalry followed in support, and Merle's division stood in reserve at
Polotsk. St. Cyr in his report to Berthier says that he had intended to
commence the attack at 4 p.m., but the bringing up of the troops from
the left bank of the Düna proved a tedious operation; and it was not
until nearly 5 that St. Cyr was able to give the signal to commence the

The French and Bavarian artillery opened a tremendous cannonade against
the unsuspecting Russians, with great effect, especially among two
batteries in advance of Prizmenitza, which lost nearly all their
horses, and had a number of guns and waggons disabled or blown up
against the Bavarian artillery. Diebich skilfully placed some guns in
a battery on the extreme Russian left, which, being masked, caused
considerable loss, but could not silence the far stronger array of
pieces ranged before Spas.



Gained by General St. Cyr (in succession to Marshal Oudinot wounded) on
18th August, 1812]

For some reason which is not very apparent the infantry attack did not
take place immediately. Possibly St. Cyr hoped that the fire of his
130 guns or thereabouts would soon demoralise the Russians, but he was
deceived. Wittgenstein's troops fell quickly into their places in the
line, and their artillery stoutly responded to the greatly superior
mass of Franco-Bavarian batteries.

After a cannonade of about an hour's duration, Wrede moved forward,
threatening to turn the Russian left, while Deroy marched straight
against Prizmenitza. Legrand's division, however, moved forward rather
slowly, and Verdier's division (temporarily commanded by General of
Brigade Valentin) was still farther to the rear. The result was that
the Russian resistance was by no means crushed by the impetus of a
combined charge. As the Bavarians advanced they screened the fire of
their guns, and the Russian artillery was able to play heavily upon the
infantry. Deroy, a venerable officer respected by all, was mortally
wounded as he directed his division, and the Bavarians, shaken by their
losses, began to give way. Legrand, now in line on their left, carried
Prizmenitza, but was driven out again by Hamen with seven battalions of
Sazonov's division. St. Cyr himself hastened to the front and directed
a fresh advance of Legrand against Prizmenitza, supported by Sieben's
brigade of Deroy's division. Wrede was directed to assume the command
of the whole 6th Corps, and himself rallied and led on Deroy's shaken
troops. The four French and Bavarian infantry divisions, now supported
by Merle on the left rear, moved forward together, breaking down the
obstinate resistance of the Russians and forcing them back into the
woods. The Russian cavalry charged repeatedly and brilliantly to cover
the retreat of their infantry, and the combined Guard regiment created
a panic in Corbineau's brigade, and rode almost up to the walls of
Polotsk. St. Cyr himself, who had been slightly wounded on the 17th
and was obliged to use a carriage, was nearly captured, and the daring
horsemen were only checked by the fire of the reserve artillery.
They were fired into from all sides, and charged by one of Doumerc's
Cuirassier regiments, but the survivors regained the Russian line,
sorely diminished in numbers, but covered with glory. The Russian army,
badly defeated but by no means routed, made good its retreat during
the night to Sivokhino, where it halted. St. Cyr did not pursue. He
was not strong in light cavalry, and Corbineau's brigade was obviously
demoralised. Still it seems that more use might have been made of
Merle's Swiss regiments, which had scarcely fired a shot; several of
Verdier's and Wrede's regiments also had not been heavily engaged.

The losses on both sides had been very heavy. Wrede gave the Bavarian
loss as 118 officers and 1161 men killed and wounded. That of the
2nd Corps, which had 190 officers _hors de combat_, can hardly have
been less than 3500. The Russians admitted a loss of 5000 killed and
wounded. St. Cyr claimed 1000 prisoners; and 14 Russian guns were

On the French side General Deroy was mortally wounded. Oudinot, St.
Cyr, Verdier and Wrede were wounded. Of the brigade leaders the
Bavarian Sieben was killed, and two French and two Bavarians wounded.
The Russians had Generals Berg, Kozakovski and Hamen wounded.

Polotsk was hardly a very glorious victory, St. Cyr having some 35,000
men on the field against Wittgenstein's 23,000 or 24,000 at most, but
it had important results in freeing Napoleon from anxiety for his
left flank. He showed his satisfaction by at last giving St. Cyr his
Marshal's bâton.


[Footnote 3: Klengel gives his whole strength as only 1985; but he had
obvious motives for minimising the disaster. The figures given in the
text are confirmed by the muster-rolls of the 7th Corps.]

[Footnote 4: For Plan see Appendix.]



The battle of Lubino concluded the bloody fighting about Smolensk;
and, though there was practically no pause in the operations, it
marked the term of another stage in the campaign, as poor in results
as the preceding ones. At Vilna the Russians had deliberately refused
to fight, and had withdrawn out of reach. At Vitebsk they had almost
accepted the chance of battle, but then, on better information, had
slipped out of their great opponent's closing grasp in the nick of
time. At Smolensk it seemed that the desired great battle would at
last be delivered and elusive victory crown the eagles of Napoleon.
Whatever be thought of the wisdom of the Emperor's manoeuvres, they
had been admirably carried out, and his troops had fought splendidly.
Yet the results of the great effort had been completely negative. The
Russian army had wrought its way out of the great conqueror's clutches,
and had inflicted decidedly more damage that it had itself received. A
few guns, a few prisoners and a ruined and nearly deserted city--these
constituted the poor reward of so much skill and courage.

It may be regarded as certain that Napoleon had originally intended
to conclude the campaign of 1812 at Smolensk. When he first began to
contemplate a change of plan cannot be determined, but it is possible
that it was at a comparatively early period of the campaign. The
elusive strategy of his opponents cannot but have kept before his
eyes the probability either of being forced to extend the area of
his operations, or of taking up winter-quarters with his self-imposed
task unfinished. Jomini points out that the fact that he did not then
disclose his purpose may merely indicate that he wished to encourage
his weary troops by the prospect of a speedy end of their toils. On
the other hand, it is highly probable that his decision was not formed
until after the battle of Smolensk. The absolutely negative results
of that engagement forced him to consider the necessity of pushing
on to strike a crushing blow. Had he succeeded in disorganising the
main Russian army by a heavy defeat he would probably have stayed his
advance, and devoted the rest of the campaigning season to solidly
organising his communications, and crushing Tormazov and Wittgenstein.

So much for the time at which Napoleon decided to continue his advance.
His reasons fall under three headings--military, political and personal.

Napoleon played many parts on the stage of history, but he was in the
first instance and before everything a soldier. Military reasons may
therefore justly take priority of place. Since crossing the frontier
in June he had kept steadily before him the crushing of the principal
forces of Russia in a great battle. This purpose he had failed to
effect. The Russian armies were yet unbroken, and had suffered,
relatively to their numbers, less heavily than their opponents. They
were retiring upon their resources, and, slow and difficult as was
the organisation of reinforcements, the Russian national spirit was
thoroughly roused, and the vanguard of the new levies was beginning
to reach the fighting line. But for the moment this fighting line was
much weaker than the forces immediately under Napoleon's command, and
would probably succumb to them in a pitched battle. Were it allowed
to manoeuvre rearwards, and rally and assimilate the new levies which
were being collected and drilled, the chances of Napoleon's success
would be greatly diminished. His lines of communication were already
troubled by Cossacks, and time would mean the increase of these
vexatious irregulars both in numbers and efficiency, thus compelling
larger detachments and weakening the striking force upon which
everything really depended. It was practically certain that the elusive
Russians would never abandon "White-Walled Moscow" without a battle,
and it was necessary to go forward to seek it while the striking force
was yet strong enough to deal a decisive blow. It would also appear
that the halt on the Düna and Dnieper had permitted the accumulation of
supplies sufficient to subsist the army as far as Moscow, at any rate
with the addition of what might be obtained by foraging.[5] Finally,
the victory of Schwarzenberg at Gorodeczna on August 12th, and that of
St. Cyr over Wittgenstein at Polotsk on the 17th and 18th, appeared to
assure the immediate security of Napoleon's flanks.

Political reasons also must have weighed much with Napoleon. The
continuance of his empire, as he himself probably understood better
than anyone, depended upon continued military success. His own position
rested almost solely upon the force of his own personality. To remain
for several months, perhaps a year, away from France might lead to his
downfall. Moreover, whatever the dynasts might say or do, Germany was
full of discontent; and in his absence revolt might break out in his
rear. To confess failure by a retreat was not to be contemplated. In
short, there was practically no alternative to an advance.

To the influence exercised by sound military and political argument
must be added that of Napoleon's personality. He had never yet
experienced failure so far as his own personal enterprises had been
concerned, and exasperated as he was by the lack of success, up to the
present, of the campaign, every prompting of his fierce and impetuous
nature impelled him to go forward.

On the other hand, the Russians--in so far as there was any public
opinion in Russia--were by no means contented with the progress of
the campaign. Alexander, before leaving the army, had issued two
proclamations, one to the people at large, the other to the city of
Moscow, calling upon the nation to make great efforts to expel the
invaders. He then hastened to Moscow, where, on July 27th, an assembly
of nobles and merchants was convoked under the presidency of the
Governor-General, Count Rostopchin. The nobles offered for war a levy
of one man in ten from the population of their estates. The merchants
volunteered a contribution by an assessment upon the capital of each;
and a special subscription opened on the spot realised in an hour
nearly £200,000. In the midst of these enthusiastic proceedings the
Tzar entered the assembly, and ended a speech, in which he set forth
the national peril, by a declaration that he intended to continue the
struggle until the bitter end.

Alexander wisely restricted the new levies to provinces which were
not yet the seat of war. He also decided that a proportion of 2 per
cent. generally, and 1 per cent. in Siberia, would be sufficient.
Men were not lacking, but arms and equipment were deficient, so also
were officers capable of organising and training the new recruits.
The collection of the levies was an operation requiring much time and
trouble: it was even more difficult to realise the money contribution,
part of which was not finally received until the following year. But
considering the vast extent and poverty of the empire the immediate
results were exceedingly creditable. We shall soon have occasion to
note the rapid strengthening of the Russian army.

With all this enthusiasm and patriotic endeavour there was not
unnaturally mingled a good deal of distrust and discontent among the
nobles, who voiced such public opinion as existed. These feelings were
justified to a great extent by the foolishness of the Government,
which reported non-existent military successes, and misrepresented the
operations which were in progress. A certain amount of reliable news,
however, filtered through from the front. It gradually became clear
that, despite the so-called successes of the Russians, the armies were
steadily retreating, and that cities and provinces were being abandoned
to the invader.

The general results of all this was a more or less openly expressed
desire that the conduct of the war should be changed. To a certain
extent it was the outcome of genuine conviction that the command might
be in better hands, but it was also largely the reflection of the
insubordinate discontent among the army officers, which had reached
its height at Smolensk. The outcry was chiefly against Barclay, whose
foreign name was made the platform for every kind of unjust accusation.
It appears to have chiefly been the sentiments of Bagration and his
adherents which made themselves heard in the capital. Barclay had
few friends--Löwenstern says that Konovnitzin was almost the only
general officer attached to him--and had neither leisure nor talents
for defending his reputation against intriguers. Alexander apparently
always trusted and liked him; but on the abandonment of the offensive
early in August the clamour became so loud that he was constrained
to give way, though he angrily declared that he would not assume
responsibility for any evil consequences. He appointed a committee
consisting of Arakcheiev, the Vice-Chancellor Count Kotschubey, and
Prince Lopukhin, to consider the question of a different conduct of the
war. The action was probably merely nominal, for both the remedy and
the man to apply it had been practically agreed upon. The committee
met on the 17th of August. It recommended the appointment of a
commander-in-chief of all the Russian field armies, and for the post
submitted to the Tzar the name of General Prince Golénischev-Kutuzov.

There were practically only two candidates for the onerous position.
One was Kutuzov. The other was Bennigsen, who in his own estimation
was fully equal to the responsibility. Others, however, did not think
so highly of his merits, or of those of his campaign of 1807 against
Napoleon. Alexander knew him as one of his father's assassins, and
probably distrusted his vain and selfish character. Besides, he was a
foreigner. Kutuzov's military reputation was estimated as highly as
Bennigsen's; his laurels were recent; and, above all, he was a native
Russian, popular with the army and believed to be the exponent of the
hard-fighting tactics of far-famed Suvórov.

On the 18th Alexander nominated Kutuzov to the position of
commander-in-chief. Bennigsen was appointed chief-of-staff. The reasons
are somewhat obscure. Clausewitz considers that Bennigsen procured
his appointment in the hopes of succeeding to Kutuzov's place if, as
seemed not unlikely, the old man's health should break down. Bennigsen
himself says that, at Vilna, Barclay informed him that Alexander wished
to employ him again. It is possible that Alexander appointed him in
view of such a contingency as Clausewitz suggests; certainly he was
senior to all the generals with the army, so that, in the event of
Kutuzov's retirement, he would naturally assume the command. He seems
to have regarded himself rather as his chief's colleague than his
assistant. Kutuzov did not take his appointment very kindly, and the
yoking together of the two veterans, one a Russian noble and the other
a German soldier of fortune, was not a happy expedient.

While at Smolensk, Napoleon regulated his main line of communications,
which was now to run by Vilna, Minsk, Borisov and Orsha, to Smolensk.
Smolensk became the advanced depôt of the army, and Vitebsk being of
only secondary importance, Charpentier was transferred to the former
place with the greater part of his garrison. Winzingerode, however,
was so active in the neighbourhood of Vitebsk that on the 21st
Napoleon detached Pino's Italian division thither to support Pajol.
The alarm was a false one, for Winzingerode had, as we know, only a
weak detachment of cavalry. On receiving intelligence of the retreat of
the Russian main army he fell back towards Moscow, and Napoleon called
Pino, Pajol and Guyon towards him, but only the cavalry were able to
rejoin in time for the battle of Borodino.

Orders were given to construct bakeries at Smolensk, and to form
magazines and hospitals. The city, however, was little better than a
heap of ruins. Nearly all the inhabitants had fled, and artificers and
materials were lacking to carry out the works ordered by Napoleon. It
is a favourite saying of the Emperor's apologists that his orders were
neglected. The truth is that they were too frequently impracticable.
The hospitals, choked with some 15,000 sick and wounded, were in a
frightful condition. So great was the dearth of supplies that the
parchment of the city archives and gun-waddings were utilised for

Nor was the condition of the army at large satisfactory. Food was for
the moment sufficient; but clothing and equipment were already wearing
out. Nansouty declared that he had never seen cavalry in so wretched
a condition as his own 1st Corps; there were Cuirassiers half naked.
The number of broken-down horses was alarmingly large. Discipline was
worse than ever. Napoleon declared in a moment of depression that
two-thirds of the army were stragglers. There was small prospect of
these evils being remedied. The army, having made an all too brief
halt about Vitebsk and Orsha, and a yet briefer one at Smolensk, was
about to be pushed forward for another 250 miles. Napoleon had, in a
sense, provided for everything; that is, he had issued orders which
anticipated most contingencies. But De Fezensac, himself a soldier of
merit, puts his finger on the weak point of the elaborate arrangements,
and sums up the situation in a single damning paragraph: "Mais il
ne suffit pas de donner des ordres, il faut que ces ordres soient
exécutables; et avec la rapidité des mouvements, la concentration des
troupes sur un même point, le mauvais état des chemins, la difficulté
de nourrir les chevaux, comment aurait-il été possible de faire des
destributions régulières et d'organiser convenablement le service des
hôpitaux?" The army swept the country through which it was moving
clear in a few hours; it became literally and without exaggeration
a wilderness. Stores of every kind were being poured into Vilna and
pushed forward with all diligence to Minsk and Smolensk, but bad
roads, lack of horses and sometimes mismanagement delayed the advance
of the convoys. The main army, for whose benefit they were intended,
was constantly moving forward, and they could never attain it. When on
October 19th, Napoleon turned back from Moscow his nearest considerable
magazine was at Smolensk, and it contained only six or seven days'

There was depression and growing discontent among the generals.
Napoleon noticed it and made angry and bitter comments thereupon. Ney
alone seems to have been undaunted. Just after Lubino he wrote to the
Emperor suggesting that an attempt should be made to overtake the
Russians by three or four forced marches.

In the rear also events were far from answering to Napoleon's
expectations. He complained bitterly that Lithuania did nothing. It
was to some extent true. Lithuania was a poor country; it had been
wasted by the passage across it of the bulk of the _Grande Armée_,
and it could furnish practically no supplies. The levies ordered
by the provisional government existed largely upon paper, and the
troops actually enrolled were of very poor quality. Had Napoleon
frankly re-established the Kingdom of Poland better results might have
been obtained, but it is not very probable. It is impossible, after
reading his minute directions to De Pradt, his agent at Warsaw, and
his ambiguous replies to the Polish deputies who waited upon him at
Vilna, not to perceive that he was deliberately trading upon the hopes
and enthusiasm of the Poles. Moreover, he had on entering Lithuania
committed a blunder by proclaiming liberty to everyone. The serfs
naturally interpreted this as granting permission for plunder and
general licence. The nobles, whom Napoleon should certainly, from the
point of view of his own interests, have conciliated, were alienated,
as were the Jews, who practically monopolised such trade and industry
as existed. At best it can scarcely be said that Lithuania was actively
favourable to Napoleon. It was necessary to garrison the principal
towns and to escort all convoys as if the country had been hostile
instead of nominally friendly. For all practical purposes Napoleon's
base continued to be on the Niemen and Vistula, and supplies had to be
brought up thence.

On the 20th of August, apparently, Napoleon finally made up his mind
to continue his advance, and on the 21st and 22nd the army was set
in motion. Ney's shattered corps could no longer fulfil the duties
of support to the advanced guard, and Davout's took its place. Murat
led the way with the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Corps of Cavalry, and the light
horse of the 1st and 3rd Army Corps. Behind Murat marched the 1st
Corps, with Compans' division leading; the 3rd and 8th Corps and the
Imperial Guard followed. The 4th Corps formed the left flank-guard; the
5th and Latour-Maubourg's Corps (less three Polish regiments left on
the Dnieper) that on the right. On the 23rd intelligence arrived that
the Russians had taken up a position for battle near Dorogobuzh, 22
miles east of Solovievo. Eugène and Poniatowski were drawn in towards
the centre and the muster-rolls called. They showed an effective
strength of 147,000 men, of whom 31,000 were cavalry, with nearly 590
guns--exclusive of the head-quarters troops.

On leaving Lubino Barclay had sent forward Toll to look for a
favourable field of battle. While the First Army was marching to
Solovievo, Bagration moved on towards Dorogobuzh. Toll, who was
accompanied by Clausewitz, found a position, which he considered
satisfactory, about 5 miles west of the town, behind the small river
Uzha, which here flowed into the Dnieper from the south. It was open
in front, giving free play to the action of the powerful Russian
artillery, and woods behind afforded cover for reserves. On the right,
however, a hill beyond the Uzha commanded part of the main position,
and thus appeared to Barclay and Bagration, who met to confer, a
cardinal defect. Barclay, whose temper had probably scarcely been
softened by persecution, blamed Toll, and the latter, always gruff to
the verge of rudeness, growled a reply to the effect that he could not
_make_ positions--if they were not to be _found_ that was the fault of
the country. Barclay, recognising that there was reason in the answer,
if little courtesy, refrained from an angry reply; but Bagration was
furious, and his natural generosity impelled him to praise the very man
whom he had recklessly assailed.

"If you cannot choose positions," he told the luckless young
Quartermaster-General, "that is not to say that others cannot! How
dare you, you unlicked cub, address the commander-in-chief so? He owes
his position to his great qualities, and deserves every consideration.
I am his senior, but I set the example by serving under him. You and
your blue riband! (Toll was a Knight of St. Andrew.) You think that
you honour him by serving under him; but it is the other way about.
It is disgraceful that a young swelled-head like you should hold such
language towards the man on whom depends the fate of the army and the
empire. Thank his generosity that worse does not befall you, for if
I had my way I would change that blue riband for a common soldier's

The threat was by no means an empty one, for a Russian
commander-in-chief had power to degrade officers to the ranks.
Bagration's words certainly afford food for reflection, seeing his
remarks of a few days since, but it is good to know that one of the
last actions of his honourable life was to endeavour to make some
amends to his ill-used colleague.

The position being deemed unfavourable, Bagration suggested another in
front of Dorogobuzh. Clausewitz describes this--perhaps partly out of
pique--as very bad. It at any rate appears that it was intersected by
the Dnieper, though the river was not here a very formidable obstacle.

The rear-guard, under Platov, consisting of 3 regiments of Hussars, 1
of Lancers, 6 of Chasseurs and some Cossacks, had on the 22nd a brisk
action with Murat, rejoining the main army on the 23rd. On the same
day Napoleon himself left Smolensk, and Eugène and Poniatowski were
called in. Poniatowski's march to the south of the road indicated an
intention to turn the Russian left; and Bagration counselled a retreat.
It seems obvious that he had at last definitely ranged himself on the
side of Barclay. His example may have served to improve the sense of
subordination among the other generals. It had fallen so low that
Platov personally insulted Barclay a few days after the evacuation of
Smolensk. The position was evacuated in the night of the 23rd-24th and
the retreat continued, the main body retiring to Brazhino on the Moscow
road, Baggohufwudt and Uvarov proceeding level with it on the north
bank of the Dnieper. The rear-guard fell back to Dorogobuzh.

Barclay's resolution to give battle before Dorogobuzh was bold to the
verge of rashness. His entire strength was probably not more than
107,000 men, of whom 3000 were raw militia-men from the province of
Smolensk, and certainly neither of the positions in advance of the town
was strong enough to compensate for a numerical inferiority of 40,000
men. It almost appears as if he had grown desperate at the persecution
to which he was subjected, and had resolved to stake everything on a
single throw of the dice.

On the 27th the two armies reached Viasma. Napoleon on the same day
was at Slavkovo, about 27 miles westward. There was a rear-guard
fight between Murat and Platov, as the result of which the latter,
to avoid being turned, retired to Semlevo, nearer Viasma. Platov,
being indisposed, was succeeded by Konovnitzin. On the 28th Napoleon
entered Semlevo; and on the 29th Barclay and Bagration reached
Tzarévo-Zaïmichi. On the same day General Miloradovich was at Gzhatsk
with 14,466 infantry and 1123 cavalry--depôt troops, convalescents and
recruits. Barclay and Bagration now decided that with this reserve
force within reach, they might safely stand to fight, and took up a
position. It appears to have been fairly strong in the centre, but,
like most positions in Central Russia, its flanks were exposed. This
weakness the generals proposed to remedy by entrenchments. In the
evening Kutuzov arrived and assumed the supreme command.

Kutuzov decided not to give battle in the Tzarévo-Zaïmichi position.
The decision was a perfectly sensible one. The responsibility was now
his, and he as yet knew nothing of his army. He would naturally desire
to become better acquainted with it, and as it was still some 130 miles
from Moscow he might hope to find a stronger position. Toll and his
staff were sent on ahead, and the army resumed its retreat, Konovnitzin
with a force now augmented to 26 battalions and 72 squadrons
covering the rear.



Ataman of the Don Cossacks]

Meanwhile the French were doggedly following, suffering much from
fatigue and heat, and troubled, as usual, by internal dissensions.
Davout accused Murat, apparently with great justice, of wasting the
cavalry, and exhausting them by useless manoeuvres and lack of proper
care for their subsistence. He said that it wrung his heart--not a
very tender organ--to see the wretched state of the reserve cavalry
divisions, and declared that he would not allow his infantry to be so
over-worked. Matters came to a head on August 28th in an open quarrel
between the two leaders in Napoleon's presence. Murat retorted to
Davout's accusation by a counter-charge of over-caution, and declared
that they had better settle their differences by a duel! Napoleon
rather added fuel to the flames, for he insinuated that had Murat been
in Davout's place in July he might have intercepted Bagration. Davout
was also on bad terms with Berthier. There is no discovering the real
cause of this, but it is certain that Davout's fierce temper and rough
manners made him many enemies.

The march of the army was toilsome. The wide road was occupied by
the artillery and trains, five or six vehicles abreast, while along
both sides tramped the infantry in heavy columns of companies or
"divisions." They suffered much from heat, which was aggravated by the
dense clouds of dust raised by the marching columns; and the supply
of water was scanty. Even the Russians occasionally felt the want of
it, and it was naturally worse for the French, who found the wells
drunk dry and the streams trodden into mud. At the same time it does
not appear that the diminution in the ranks owing to these causes was
exceptional, though it was certainly serious. The worst losses were
among the horses, which suffered at once from lack of proper forage and
from thirst. Corn and hay became more and more difficult to procure,
and the rations of the unfortunate animals were made up with rye straw.
The wastage among them was all the more serious because there was
little hope of being able to replace them.

The villages along the route, and the few small towns, were
for the most part deserted by their inhabitants, and in
part at least destroyed. This was not invariably the case.
Dorogobuzh--"Cabbage-town," as the French soldiers called it from the
cabbage fields amid which it lay--was uninjured, and three months later
still contained some of its inhabitants. Gzhatsk also was uninjured.
Viasma was partly destroyed, owing to fire spreading from a depôt of
flour and spirits which the Russians had fired before retreating.
Otherwise it is difficult to decide whether the destruction of houses
and villages was due to French or Russians. It may be attributed to
both at various times according to circumstances.

The Russians retired eastward through Gzhatsk, covered by their
powerful rear-guard. On September 1 they were about Kolotskoï, a
great monastery about 75 miles from Moscow, the rear-guard being a
day's march behind. At Kolotskoï Toll and Vistitski II, Bagration's
Quarter-master-General, recommended a defensive position at Borodino,
a few miles farther on--probably in despair of being able to find
anything better between it and Moscow. Napoleon either learned on the
same day that the Russians had definitely turned to bay, or inferred
that they were about to do so, for he stayed his advance at Gzhatsk
in order to rally his forces for the impending struggle. The musters
for the 2nd of September, including men temporarily detached or
straggling who might rejoin within two or three days, and exclusive of
head-quarter troops, showed nearly 135,000 sabres and bayonets. Two
battalions of the 8th Corps were garrisoning Dorogobuzh and Viasma.
Before the battle Napoleon was rejoined by Pajol's division and by the
1st and 12th Light Cavalry Brigades--nearly 4000 sabres in all. For
the head-quarters troops 3000 is a conservative estimate.

Napoleon made great efforts at this time to grapple with the disorder
in his rear, and especially to reduce the vast trains of vehicles which
impeded the march. There is abundant evidence that they were out of all
proportion to the strength of the army, and the superfluity consisted
chiefly of private carriages. Napoleon's efforts produced little
effect. He issued stringent orders, and himself directed the firing of
some vehicles; but Baron Girod tells of at least one instance in which
the fire was extinguished as soon as the Emperor's back was turned, and
in general the order remained a dead letter.

During the halt there was a good deal of rain, which did not improve
the indifferent roads, but relieved the distress for water. The 4th,
however, was fine, and early in the morning the French army resumed
its advance. The order was as before, but, to Davout's disgust,
Compans' division was placed under Murat's direct orders. A provisional
battalion of the Vistula Legion was left to garrison Gzhatsk.
Konovnitzin made a stand at Gridnevo, about half-way to Borodino,
withdrawing when Murat's infantry turned his flank, his cavalry
skirmishing steadily with the leading French squadrons. On the 5th he
made another stand at Kolotskoï, and it was not until he saw Eugène's
corps marching past his right flank that he fell back into the main
army behind the Kolotza.

The Borodino position has often been spoken of as an admirable one
for defence. Clausewitz, who knew it, is of a very different opinion;
and in all probability it was selected simply because there was no
likelihood that anything better would present itself in the endless
plain-lands. It had one grave strategic defect. Some way to the west
the great road forks, the branches uniting again at Mozhaïsk, about 6
miles east of Borodino. It was therefore necessary to hold two roads
instead of one, and to be strong on both. At Borodino they are 2-1/2
miles apart, the new road, on which Borodino stands, lying to the north.

The Kolotza rivulet makes a very acute angle with the new road, running
for a considerable distance nearly parallel with it, always in a gully
with steep banks. After passing Borodino, which lies on its left bank,
it flows north-eastward with a very sinuous course to join the Moskva,
about 2-3/4 miles farther on. The Moskva itself flows south-eastward to
the high-road at the village of Uspenskoïe, three miles from Borodino,
where it turns eastward towards Mozhaïsk.

In the angle formed by the two streams lies a low partly wooded
plateau, its base formed by a rivulet which joins the Kolotza at
Borodino. At its south-western angle stood the hamlet of Gorki, about
a mile from Borodino. A few hundred yards higher up another streamlet
joined the Kolotza from the south-east. This streamlet, called after
the hamlet of Semenovskoï, about a mile and a quarter south of
Borodino, flows in a little ravine, and the ground between it and
the Gorki rivulet forms another low plateau, not more than 30 feet
high, but with a fairly steep western drop. It descends very slightly
towards the east for about a mile, until it is crossed by another brook
flowing in a gully. The eastern bank of this gully is the higher, and
the ground extends eastward in another low plateau on which lies the
village of Tzarévo, a mile and a half east of Semenovskoï. Just west
of Gorki there is a low knoll, and another a mile due south-east of
Gorki, and about 1100 yards north of Semenovskoï. From Semenovskoï to
the old road at the village of Utitza is about a mile and a quarter,
and from the latter village extended northward for about 1000 yards a
thick wood. Three-quarters of a mile east of Utitza is a knoll, and
a little eastward again another low plateau. South of the old road
extended marshy woods, though a little south of Utitza there was a
clearing round the hamlet of Michino. Patches of wood were scattered
over the whole position. The villages were all log-built and useless
for defence. From Utitza by Borodino to the junction of the Kolotza
with the Moskva is a distance of almost 5 miles.

To the west of the Borodino-Utitza line the country is of the same
character, only slightly lower. At the village of Shevardino, a mile
westward from Semenovskoï, is a low knoll. The villages were of so
little consequence that it is superfluous to name them.

It will probably be gathered from this description that the general
position afforded no great advantages to the weaker side. Clausewitz,
indeed, says that in places it was difficult to tell which had the
advantage of the ground. The northern plateau was fairly advantageous
for defence, but the Kolotza ravine in its front prevented the troops
posted on it from making counter-attacks. The old road afforded
opportunities to an enterprising foe of a turning movement. It was
therefore necessary to hold it strongly, but the wood south of
Semenovskoï almost cut the troops about Utitza from the main line
farther north. Bennigsen criticises the whole position most bitterly,
as far too extended, but represents it as being 2 miles longer than
it really was. He was himself an advocate of very narrow positions,
and French critics declared that his line at Eylau was far too close
and heavy. He says in his memoirs that he perfectly understood
that Napoleon's concentrated attacks could only be repulsed by a
concentration of defence. In principle he was no doubt right, but
the defensive concentration, as Wellington had been teaching an
unappreciative Europe for years, should have been one of effective
muskets, not of crowded columns. Bennigsen was too self-satisfied to
see this; but it is perhaps fair to add that probably the British army
was the only one in Europe sufficiently highly trained to execute
linear tactics. The Russian soldiers were extremely steady and accurate
in manoeuvre, but not rapid, and scarcely highly trained; French
observers criticise their clumsiness. Clausewitz thinks that the
reserves were too near the front. The bulk of the army was massed on a
front of four miles; both flanks were covered by Cossacks.

The Kolotza entered the Moskva amid marshy ground; the right was
accordingly supported on a wood a mile and a half further south. In
front of this and on its left towards Gorki were various field works.
In front of Gorki was a parapet with redans, and on the knoll south of
Borodino a large earthwork, called by the French the "Great Redoubt."
Semenovskoï had been destroyed, the houses being mere shell traps.
At its western end a parapet had been marked out, and to the south
three _flèches_ or redans. The Gorki work, the Great Redoubt and the
Semenovskoï redans were the only entrenchments at all complete, and
they were very hastily finished and of poor profile. Engineers and
sappers were few in the Russian army, and tools seem to have been

The strength of the army gathered to defend this very mediocre position
cannot be exactly estimated. Russian figures vary, and none seem to be
accurate in details. Bogdanovich, for example, reckons 14,500 artillery
and sappers present, which, allowing for 1000 of the latter, gives an
average of 250 per battery--more than in June!

The only very certain fact about the Russian strength is that when the
army reached Gzhatsk it cannot have contained much over 100,000 men,
of whom 3000 were militia and 7000 Cossacks. Miloradovich's 15,500 men
were drafted into the regiments, presumably with a view to bringing
them up as far as possible to equal strength. On the 4th the army was
joined by 7000 militia from Moscow under Count Markov, the vanguard of
the great national levy. The total may be fairly estimated at nearly
125,000 men. The militia were absolutely raw troops; some of them were
merely employed on police and fatigue duties. There were over 17,000
excellent regular cavalry, 7000 Cossacks, and 640 guns and howitzers,
admirably appointed and horsed.

Napoleon had left perhaps 700 men in Gzhatsk, and allowing 1000 men
for casualties at Gridnevo and Kolotskoï, and 2000 for stragglers or
men who failed to rejoin, he had still over 131,000 men on the 5th
of September, exclusive of the head-quarters guard, at least 3000
men, who must be counted as present no less than the Russian militia.
Between the 5th and 7th the army was reinforced by 4000 cavalry, giving
a total of 138,000 men available. There were about 32,000 cavalry,
but their superiority in numbers hardly compensated for the inferior
condition of the horses. The weight of metal thrown by the 584 guns
was slightly superior to that projected by the 640 opposing pieces;
and the former--with the exception of the regimental artillery--were
undoubtedly more efficiently served, but here also the horses were in
poor condition.

After the fight at Kolotskoï the French moved forward,--the main
column by the new road, Eugène to the left rear, Poniatowski by the
old road on the right--Konovnitzin and his troops retiring steadily
before them. The Russian army was not yet definitely ranged for battle,
the direction of Napoleon's attack being still uncertain. Barclay,
with the 2nd, 4th and 6th Corps, was behind Borodino, Bagration about
Semenovskoï with an advanced guard, under his second in command Prince
Gorchakov, at Shevardino, where a redoubt had been thrown up and armed
with 12 heavy guns. Gorchakov's force comprised the 27th Division,
Sievers' cavalry corps, the 2nd Cuirassier Division, and a light
infantry regiment from the 2nd Corps. The 3rd and 5th Corps, with the
militia, were for the present held in reserve.

It was not until 3 p.m. that Konovnitzin retired from Kolotskoï, and
probably not before 5 that Murat attacked Gorchakov. The 3rd Chasseurs
were ejected from the hamlet of Doronimo by the 61st Regiment, which
marched at the head of Compans' division; and the French infantry
attacked the redoubt. It was a hastily constructed work; but the 27th
Division fought with steady determination and contested its possession
fiercely, the cavalry co-operating by means of repeated charges, in
one of which the Russian Cuirassiers captured 5 guns. The position was
taken and retaken three times, and Bagration seems to have contemplated
holding it definitely, for at 8 he relieved Neverovski's troops by
the division of Karl of Mecklenburg. But by this time Poniatowski was
well advanced along the old Moscow road on the left; and about 10 p.m.
Bagration, by Kutuzov's orders, withdrew to the main position. The
losses on both sides had been considerable. Bagration, who had exposed
himself in his usual reckless fashion, was slightly wounded, as were
also Gorchakov and St. Priest.

The French army was not yet fully concentrated, and Napoleon occupied
the 6th in reconnoitring the Russian position and arranging his plan of
attack, while the troops already on the field rested. On the Russian
side the army was placed in position, and the day was for the most part
spent in religious exercises, culminating in the progress of the Virgin
of Smolensk, which had been rescued from the city, through the camps.

The Russian commanders realised that they ran the risk of being turned
by the old Moscow road. Tuchkov's corps was therefore withdrawn from
the general reserve and posted at Utitza, with the Moscow militia
behind it in support, and 6 regiments of Cossacks under Karpov on its
left near Michino. On the plateau to the north of the new road were
the 2nd and 4th Corps, the 2nd on the right and the latter to the
left, near Gorki. Dokhturov, with a brigade of Voronzov's Grenadiers
attached, stood between Gorki and the Great Redoubt. Raievski's weak
corps occupied the space between Dokhturov and Semenovskoï and
garrisoned the Great Redoubt, while the 8th Corps (less Voronzov's
detached brigade) and the 27th Division held Semenovskoï and the
redans. The wood between Borozdin's left and Tuchkov was occupied by
4 regiments of light infantry. Every corps had its Chasseur regiments
thrown out in front. Borodino was garrisoned by the Chasseurs of the
Imperial Guard. Kutuzov and Bennigsen were stationed between Gorki and
Tzarévo, whence they could overlook nearly the entire field.

Behind the first line stood the cavalry, each reserve corps having
attached for the day a regiment of Corps-Hussars. Uvarov, having
also the Cossacks of the Guard, was with Baggohufwudt, Korff behind
Ostermann-Tolstoï, Kreutz (_vice_ Pahlen invalided) in rear of
Dokhturov, and Sievers behind Semenovskoï, with Duka's Cuirassier
division. Platov had 5 Cossack regiments watching the right flank,
and 9 more in rear of the 2nd Corps. The 5th Corps, now under General
Lavrov, was at Tzarévo, with an artillery reserve of about 240 field
and horse guns.

These dispositions have not escaped criticism. Clausewitz considers
that there were too many troops on the right, and as they had
eventually for the most part to be brought over to the left he was
probably correct. Bennigsen says that he saw that the left would be
attacked in force, and that Bagration needed reinforcing. Both opinions
have rather the air of wisdom after the event, and the manoeuvre
proposed by Clausewitz of forming a huge reserve, allowing Napoleon to
drive back Bagration, and then attacking his advancing line in flank,
seems rather a hazardous one.

The Russian line comprised four sections. Miloradovich commanded the
2nd and 4th Corps and the 1st and 2nd Cavalry Corps; Dokhturov the 6th
Corps and the 3rd Cavalry Corps; Gorchakov the 7th and 8th Corps and
Sievers' cavalry; and Tuchkov the 3rd Corps and the Moscow militia.
Finally, Barclay was in charge of the right half of the line, Bagration
of the left. This multiplicity of generals was a nuisance. Barclay and
Bagration sent orders direct to the divisional and brigade commanders.

The precise part which Kutuzov took in the battle is uncertain: the
general impression is that he left Barclay and Bagration to direct the
movements of the troops, except in a few instances.

It is a little doubtful if the Russian commanders intended nothing but
a mere obstinate defensive. As has been already mentioned, Borodino
was garrisoned and the bridge left intact; and from Barclay's actions
and remarks, as recorded by Löwenstern, he seems to have contemplated
a counter-offensive on the right. The vigour of the French attack,
however, in any case rendered this idea, if entertained, fruitless.

As regards the French plans, there is little information to be gathered
from Napoleon's orders, which merely provide in the simplest manner for
massing batteries and opening infantry attacks, after which directions
would be given according to circumstances. Poniatowski was to turn
the Russian left by the old Moscow road--a task for which he had not
enough troops. Probably, owing to the interposing woods, the Russian
force on the old road had not been estimated at its real strength.
Davout endeavoured to be allowed to make a strong flanking movement,
but Napoleon characterised it as too hazardous. Probably his real fear
was that the Russians would evacuate their position under its menace,
and so rob him of the battle which he anxiously desired. The battle
resolved itself into a general assault of the bulk of the French army
upon the Borodino-Utitza line, which, to withstand the attacks upon
it, was ultimately manned by the greater part of the Russian host. It
is certain that Davout was in a state of sullen rage at the rejection
of his advice, as well as at the fact that Morand and Gérard were
detached from the 1st Corps, and placed for the day under the orders of

Napoleon was certainly unwell. To say that he had a cold appears little
to those who do not reflect that a cold may be very troublesome.
Whatever the precise degree of Napoleon's sickness there can be no
doubt as to his lack of activity, and for a circumstance so remarkable
there must have been strong reasons. It was no small cause that could
keep the great conqueror, during a battle upon which his fortunes
depended, lying listlessly on a rug behind his line.

During the 6th the French sappers raised three battery-emplacements in
front of the 1st, 3rd and 4th Corps, each for 24 guns; but they were
placed at too great a distance from the Russian line and played no part
in the battle.

The night of the 6th-7th was foggy. Early on the 7th, while the
troops were forming, the usual Imperial proclamation was read by the
Colonels. It was a brief and uninspiring document, which can hardly
have done much to raise the spirits of the men. De Chambray says that
it was coldly received. Kutuzov's proclamation, which was read to the
Russian troops after the religious services on the 6th, was a much more
effective production.

The French army was disposed in the following order from right to left.
The 5th Corps was on the old Moscow road. Davout, with the divisions of
Friant, Compans and Desaix, stood opposite Borozdin's position and the
wood to its south. Ney continued the line to the Kolotza with Ledru's
and Razout's divisions; the relics of Scheler's Württemberg division,
now consolidated into only 3 battalions, were in reserve. North of the
Kolotza, communicating with the other troops by means of five trestle
bridges, was Eugène with the 4th Corps (less Pino's division), Morand's
and Gérard's divisions, Grouchy's cavalry corps and Preising's Bavarian

In rear of Ney were the 8th Corps and Latour-Maubourg's cavalry.
Nansouty's cavalry corps supported Davout. The Imperial Guard, with
Montbrun's cavalry corps, just rejoined by its light division, formed
the general reserve, its final position being about the Shevardino
redoubt captured on the 5th, near which Napoleon stationed himself.

About 6 a.m. the artillery of Davout's corps, speedily supported by
that of Ney, began a furious cannonade of the Russian left centre. Very
soon afterwards Davout opened the infantry attack, sending forward
Compans' division against the Semenovskoï redans, while Ney supported
by moving forward Ledru on Compans' left. The Russian entrenchments
were so slight that there was little difficulty in entering, but to
hold them was a very different matter. Redan No. 2 was carried by the
24th Léger and the 57th of the line, but Voronzov, charging with his
six Grenadier battalions formed in square, supported by Neverovski and
some of Sievers' dragoons, drove them out again, and the fight raged
fiercely about the almost useless earthworks, which were taken and
retaken as the generals on either side threw in reinforcements.

Bagration, seeing the heavy masses advancing against him, and fearing
that he would be overpowered, ordered Tuchkov to send Konovnitzin's
division (now commanded by Tuchkov IV, Konovnitzin being on Kutuzov's
staff) from Utitza. This reinforcement was necessary, for by 8 Voronzov
and Neverovski, no longer able to bear up against superior numbers,
were evicted from all three redans, Voronzov being wounded. Tuchkov
came up in time to rally the retreating battalions, and Bagration
promptly led forward a fresh counter-attack which was successful in
recovering the lost position, though Compans was now supported by
Desaix. Already the terrible "Battle of the Generals" was earning its
name. Compans was disabled first, then Desaix, while Rapp, sent by
Napoleon to succeed Compans, received four wounds in about an hour.

On the left Eugène had attacked Borodino with Delzons' division of the
4th Corps. The attack was made under cover of the mist which still hung
over the field, and the village was carried with a rush. The Guard
Chasseurs lost 30 officers in a quarter of an hour, and were driven in
wild confusion to and across the Kolotza. The bridge was taken, and the
106th French Regiment poured across it in pursuit. The garrison would
have been destroyed but for the 1st Chasseurs, under Colonel Karpenko,
who hurried up to the rescue. Charged by them, and smitten by the fire
of Ostermann-Tolstoï's guns from the farther bank, the 106th lost
heavily. General Plauzonne was killed as he endeavoured to rally it,
and its remains were driven back across the stream. Karpenko's charge
was stopped by the 92nd Regiment, but he succeeded in destroying the
bridge. Eugène left Delzons to watch the Kolotza north of the village,
placed the Royal Guard in reserve, stationed the cavalry of the 4th
Corps and Preising's division, now united under General Ornano, to
cover the left flank, and turned Morand's, Gérard's and Broussier's
divisions, supported by Grouchy, against Dokhturov and Raievski.

On the right Poniatowski captured Utitza, held only by the outposts,
without difficulty; but on the knoll beyond Tuchkov had massed a
strong force of artillery, supported by Strogonov's division, while
the Chasseurs in the wood to the north brought a flanking fire to bear
upon the Poles. Poniatowski ranged 40 guns in advance of the village,
but they failed to silence Tuchkov's artillery, and for some hours the
action in this quarter was reduced to cannonading and skirmishing.

Kutuzov, seeing that nearly the whole French army was moving against
his centre and left, about 7.30 a.m. ordered Baggohufwudt to march the
bulk of his corps to the support of Bagration. But as the movement
would take some time, and Bagration appeared to need immediate
support, the Ismailovski and Lithuanian Guards, some Grenadiers, and
a brigade of Cuirassiers, were sent forward, much to the disgust of
Barclay, who held strong views about depleting reserves until the last
moment. He hurried to Kutuzov, and begged him not to use up the Guard
until things became critical, and Kutuzov assented. His action during
the greater part of the battle indeed seems to have been confined to
approving his lieutenants' measures.

Davout and Ney, after being forced from the redans, reformed their
troops for another assault. Friant's division was called up in support,
and Tharreau's division of the 8th Corps sent forward by Napoleon
against the wood to the south, from which the Russian light infantry
were keeping up a heavy fire. When the Westphalians began to penetrate
the wood matters appeared critical for Bagration, exposed to attacks in
front and flank at the same time; but at 9 a.m. Baggohufwudt's corps
arrived to his support. Eugen's division was placed in reserve behind
Semenovskoï; two of Olsuviev's regiments reinforced Tuchkov IV, while
the remaining four pushed into the wood and drove the Westphalians out

The attack on the wood had, however, caused the cessation of the
flanking fire which had annoyed the Poles; and Poniatowski attacked
and carried the knoll behind Utitza. The success was but momentary.
Strogonov rallied his broken division; Tuchkov I himself led forward
the Pavlovsk Grenadier regiment; while Olsuviev broke out of the wood
with two regiments of Chasseurs. Attacked in front and flank, and
charged by Olsuviev in the rear, the Poles were unable to stand and
were thrust back to Utitza. The Russian success was achieved at the
cost of the life of Tuchkov, who was mortally wounded as he led on his

The arrival of Baggohufwudt enabled Bagration to steady his line
against the renewed advance of Davout and Ney. The struggle on the low
heights was indescribably close and desperate. Behind the furiously
fighting masses of infantry hovered the cavalry, charging again and
again as opportunities presented themselves. By 10 a.m. the French had
once more taken the redans; and the 15th Léger, of Friant's division,
fought its way into the ruins of Semenovskoï. Borozdin, charging with
four regiments of Grenadiers, drove it out again past the redans,
but was then set upon by Nansouty's cavalry and forced back; and the
struggle raged more furiously than ever as the French once more stormed
the redans, to be hurled out again by a counter-attack of Tuchkov IV's
division, led by Konovnitzin. Already the losses had been fearful.
Romoeuf, Davout's chief-of-staff, had fallen, and on the Russian side
General Tuchkov IV, the second of his family to die for Russia on the
field of Borodino.

Eugène, having crossed the Kolotza by the temporary bridges, placed
batteries in position to bombard the Great Redoubt, and formed Morand's
division opposite that of Paskievich, which held the knoll. Broussier
moved forward in support on Morand's left, while Gérard was still
crossing the stream. Paskievich's troops outside the redoubt were so
shattered by the fire of the French batteries that they sought refuge
behind the shoulder of the knoll; and General Bonami, with the 30th
of the Line, saw his chance. As the regiment advanced up the knoll it
suffered fearfully in its close formation, but nevertheless pressed on
dauntlessly and stormed the work, after a furious struggle with the
Russian infantry and gunners, who proved, as Captain François says,
worthy antagonists.

This sudden piercing of the centre of the Russian line produced an
immediate counter-attack, while Morand's other regiments appear to have
been too busy with Kolubakin's division to support Bonami. A message
was hurriedly sent to Barclay; but without waiting for orders all the
officers on the spot immediately did the right thing. Yermólov, who
was at hand, picked up a battalion of the Ufa regiment (Likhachev's
division) and was joined by Colonel Löwenstern, Barclay's aide, with
one of the Regiment of Tomsk. Likhachev hurried up the 19th and 40th
Chasseurs. Vassilchikov promptly turned a battalion of Kolubakin's
division against the lost redoubt, and Paskievich, rallying his broken
division, again pushed forward. The improvised attack was completely
successful. Unsupported, except by one battalion of the 13th Léger,
the gallant 30th was lost. The redoubt was recaptured and Bonami
desperately wounded and taken. As the remains of the regiment streamed
away down the knoll, Barclay came upon the scene, and let loose a
brigade of Kreutz's Dragoons. The 30th was almost completely destroyed,
only 11 officers and 257 men being able to rally. The Russians had not
come off scatheless. Count Kutaïsov was killed as he led the charge
with Yermólov, and the latter was wounded. To cover the escape of the
remains of the 30th Eugène concentrated a tremendous artillery fire on
the redoubt, in which Barclay replaced Paskievich's shaken division by

The Great Redoubt was retaken at about 11 a.m., and at the same time
Ney, Davout and Murat made a last and determined assault on Bagration's
position about Semenovskoï. The last reserves of the 1st and 3rd Corps
were thrown into the fight; Napoleon sent up the rest of the 8th Corps;
behind the infantry were ranged Nansouty's and Latour-Maubourg's corps
and the Corps Cavalry, and the attack was covered by the fire of over
250 guns.

This final assault was made by the French and Germans with magnificent
courage. Under the furious fire of the Russian artillery and musketry
the attacking columns pressed steadily on. The sight of their advance
roused Bagration to generous admiration. Believing that it could not
be stayed by artillery and infantry fire, he determined to make a
counter-attack, and sent forward every available battalion. Again the
opposing forces closed in deadly strife--Frenchmen, Russians and sturdy
Germans, Spaniards and Portuguese enlisted in a quarrel not their own,
fighting to the death around the blood-stained derelict redans. The
cavalry joined in the conflict, individual regiments and squadrons
striking in whenever an opportunity occurred. Bagration was desperately
wounded in the leg; and Löwenstern tells how he found him lying among
his staff behind the line, while Sir James Wylie, Alexander's surgeon,
attended to his wound. He said to Löwenstern, "How goes it with
Barclay? Tell him that the safety of the army depends upon him. All
goes well here at present"--and then seeing that Löwenstern was himself
wounded, he kindly added: "Get yourself bandaged." This touch helps
one to understand the personal admiration which Bagration undoubtedly
inspired in nearly everyone who came in contact with him; and it is
certain that his fall caused a serious slackening in the vigour of the
defence. Once more the stubborn Russians were driven from the redans
and past Semenovskoï; and this time they were not to regain their lost

After Bagration's wound the temporary command devolved upon the brave
soldier Konovnitzin; but he was unable to check the retreat which
had now definitely set in. The whole of the defending force gave
back towards Tzarévo, and upon it Murat launched his great masses of
cavalry. Still there appear to have been no signs of demoralisation,
and little real disorder; and, though clearly worsted, the Russian
infantry maintained a desperate resistance. Behind Semenovskoï the
Ismailovski and Lithuanian Guards, which had not yet been seriously
engaged, were drawn up in squares; and, their heavy fire checked the
advance of the French cavalry. Murat brought up some batteries which
opened fire against them, while in the intervals of the cannonade
Latour-Maubourg's corps charged their shattered battalions. The Guards
suffered fearfully, but closed their ranks and held firm, repelling
three charges of the Saxon Cuirassiers, who were almost annihilated.
The two regiments must, however, have been destroyed also but that
Borozdin II came to their rescue with a Cuirassier brigade, checking
the French horsemen by countercharges and enabling the Guards to follow
in the retreat, leaving their position outlined in squares of dead and

In the rear of Semenovskoï the ground was covered with struggling
hordes of infantry and cavalry. Out of the confusion at length emerged
some sort of order, the Russians taking up position along the Tzarévo
plateau, covered by the fire of batteries from the reserve, while
Davout and Ney reformed in front of Semenovskoï. Davout had been hit
four times, but declined to leave the field, though obliged to withdraw
for a short time, during which Ney and Murat exercised the command.
The King of Naples behaved with all his usual reckless bravery; and
Baron Lejeune speaks with admiration of the splendid figure presented
by Ney, as he stood directing the battle from the parapet of a redan.
And on the other side Barclay, now practically in sole command of the
Russian army, was setting an example no less heroic, apparently wishing
to meet his death on the field of Borodino. As the stress of battle
grew, the Russian generals for the most part concealed the insignia
which made them conspicuous; not so the slandered War-Minister, who
faced the storm wearing full-dress uniform and all his decorations. It
is impossible not to appreciate the heroic impulse that prompted him,
like Nelson and many another fiery spirit, to expose himself to death
decorated with the badges won on the field of honour. His staff were
almost all killed or wounded, and he had two horses shot under him,
but escaped with the slightest injury.



Commander of the 3rd French Army Corps. The hero of the Retreat

After the picture by Langlois at Versailles]

As he saw Bagration's line driven in, Kutuzov had ordered the 4th
Corps also to draw in to the centre. By noon the Russian position
was peculiar. Dokhturov on the right and Tuchkov on the left still
faced the French in nearly their old positions, while the rest of the
army stretched in a convex between them. To drive back Dokhturov and
Tuchkov was Napoleon's next object, and he was about to order forward
part of his Guard when, apparently a little after noon, he received
intelligence that his left was being attacked.

Early in the day Platov, reconnoitring towards the right, had
ascertained that there were comparatively few French troops north of
the Kolotza, and had proposed to the commander-in-chief a cavalry
attack on their flank and rear. Kutuzov assented, and for the
purpose detailed Uvarov's cavalry corps,[6] some 3500 sabres strong.
Clausewitz, who was then on Uvarov's staff, criticises the movement
severely. Certainly 3500 regular, and 4000 irregular, horsemen could
not of themselves effect much; but it is a little difficult to concur
in his opinion that the detachment of Uvarov's corps was a rash
weakening of the line. It is easier to agree with him when he says
that the movement was made too early in the day. Uvarov, however, was
very slow and did not cross the Kolotza until past eleven. About 11.30
he approached the Voïna (a little stream which enters the Kolotza
at Borodino), at Besubovo, about a mile and a half from the former
village. On the Russian side of the stream stood Guyon's cavalry
brigade and a regiment of the Italian Guard, which withdrew over a mill
dam before the fire of Uvarov's artillery to join the rest of the Guard
and Delzons' division, which occupied Borodino. Platov now came up, and
his wild horsemen dashed through a ford and among the Italian infantry,
followed, without orders, by the Cossacks of the Guard, who lost
heavily in charging the squares. Uvarov, however, would not risk his
regulars, halted, sent for orders and finally withdrew. Clausewitz's
comment is that he was not the man to lead such an attack. Löwenstern
fumes at his slowness and hesitation. More, undoubtedly, might have
been achieved with a bolder commander. Even so his feeble diversion
brought Eugène back across the Kolotza with Broussier's division, and
delayed the advance against the Great Redoubt. He finally withdrew
about 3 p.m., but before this Eugène had returned across the Kolotza.

All this time a tremendous and unprecedented cannonade was being kept
up. Between Borodino and Utitza some 900 guns were in action. The Great
Redoubt was being furiously bombarded by Eugène's artillery, while
Ney's batteries brought a converging fire to bear upon it from the
southward. To storm it Eugène detailed Gérard's division, hitherto but
lightly engaged, while Morand and Broussier supported; and Napoleon
ordered Montbrun, with his Cuirassier divisions, to charge the Russian
line on Gérard's right. Montbrun was killed as he led forward his men,
and General Caulaincourt, brother of the Duke of Vicenza, came hastily
from the Emperor to take up the command. "Don't stop to lament!" he
said to the dead general's aides. "Follow and avenge him!" The mass of
mail-clad horsemen broke through the Russian line south of the redoubt,
wheeled to the left and came thundering upon its rear, just as Eugène's
infantry reached it in front. For the four regiments of Likhachev's
division which held it there was no escape--at least as regards the
major part. Some of them who were outside the work succeeded in saving
themselves; but those within were trapped and, after maintaining a
desperate resistance against the charges in front and rear, were almost
all cut to pieces. Likhachev, who was very ill, flung himself among
the assailants, and had almost found the death which he sought when
some French soldiers, attracted by his insignia, took him prisoner,
severely wounded. Caulaincourt was struck down as he led the triumphant
charge of his Cuirassiers--one more victim of the fatal "Battle of the

The capture of the redoubt opened a huge gap in the Russian line,
through which Eugène's and Grouchy's cavalry poured to complete the
victory. Against them Barclay hurled all the horsemen whom he had
under his hand--the 2nd and 3rd Cavalry Corps and the Cuirassiers
of the Guard--leading more than one charge in person, while
Ostermann-Tolstoï's corps, supported by the yet unengaged portions
of the 5th Corps, was ordered to make a counter-attack towards
Semenovskoï. Ostermann-Tolstoï, as he had shown at Ostrovno, was not
the man for an emergency; Löwenstern says that he appeared to have
entirely lost his head. He moved forward so slowly that Ney, Davout
and Murat were able to make preparations to receive him. The French
infantry were almost fought out; the cavalry had literally "foamed
themselves away" in endeavouring to shatter the resistance of the
stubborn Russian infantry; the fire of the Russian artillery was
as steady and effective as ever. The Marshals sent again and again
for some part of the Guard to support their weary men, but Napoleon
refused to risk it. The Russian writers express astonishment at his
caution. All that he would do was to send forward the reserve of heavy
artillery, under Comte Sorbier. Sorbier swore at Lejeune, who brought
the order to advance. "I ought to have had it an hour ago!" was his

The Marshals had got together 80 guns wherewith to oppose the Russian
advance; and when Sorbier came up the 4th Corps was overwhelmed
with a crushing cannonade, against which it could not make way. Its
losses were terrible. General Bakhmetiev had his leg carried away;
Ostermann-Tolstoï himself and several of his staff were wounded. The
supporting cavalry charged with splendid audacity, and some of them
actually re-entered the Semenovskoï redans. All was in vain. Sorbier's
battery had turned the scale against the Russians, and by about 4
o'clock they were in full retreat. The infantry and cavalry on both
sides were fairly fought out, and the struggle was maintained only
by the artillery, except on the extreme left of the Russian line,
where Tuchkov's force, now commanded by Baggohufwudt, was practically
isolated. The Polish Corps, supported by the Westphalians on the left,
succeeded about 5 p.m. in carrying the Utitza knoll, and Baggohufwudt,
still barring the road, drew back into line with the centre and left.
There was a last flicker of hostility near Semenovskoï, where the
Finnish Guards repulsed an advance of some French battalions, and
then the battle died away in a dwindling cannonade, until a thick fog
shrouded in a merciful veil the awful scene of slaughter. The Russian
line, reformed by Barclay, stretched from beyond Gorki along the edge
of the Tzarévo plateau to the old Moscow road. Four Chasseur regiments,
under Colonel Potemkin, were on the right with Platov's Cossacks. The
remains of Dokhturov's corps, supported by Uvarov, held Gorki. Next
came Ostermann-Tolstoï's corps; and thence Raievski and Borozdin, with
Prince Eugen's and Shakovski's (late Tuchkov IV's) divisions, continued
the line to Baggohufwudt's position. The cavalry was in rear, and
the 5th Corps in reserve behind the centre. The French lay opposite,
Delzons and Lecchi north of the Kolotza and, to the south of the river,
the 4th, 3rd, 1st, 8th and 5th Corps in succession from Borodino
through Semenovskoï to a point about 1200 yards east of Utitza.

The consensus of opinion of eyewitnesses on the Russian side is that
the spirit of the Russians was unbroken, and that there was little
confusion in the ranks. Löwenstern says that he offered to attack the
Great Redoubt at break of day, and that Barclay approved. Kutuzov,
however, when he learned the extent of the slaughter in his army,
decided to retreat. It is quite certain that he must have retired in a
day or two, since he had no reserves, while Napoleon had 11,000 fresh
troops (Laborde and Pino) approaching the field. Barclay, however, was
bitterly angry; and when he received the order to retreat broke into a
fierce invective against Bennigsen, to whose influence he attributed
Kutuzov's resolution.

Under cover of darkness the Russian army quietly withdrew, and on
the 8th took up a position in front of Mozhaïsk. The retreat was
effectually covered by the Cossacks, who displayed great audacity, and
in the night of the 7th-8th repeatedly disturbed the French bivouacs.
The French cavalry, shattered and exhausted, could do little or
nothing, and the Russians remained all through the 8th at Mozhaïsk,
employing the time in reorganising, and in evacuating towards Moscow
as many as possible of their wounded. Nevertheless many were left to
inevitable death on the field, and thousands more abandoned at Mozhaïsk
to the mercy of the French, who, themselves in a sorely distressed
condition, simply cast them out to die of misery in the fields.

Regarding the major tactics of the battle of Borodino there is little
to say. Napoleon had deliberately chosen to make a frontal attack
upon the Russian army in place of turning it; and in the practical
absence of his personal supervision the battle almost fought itself.
The idea of taking advantage of the extension of the Russian right
by overwhelming the left was an excellent one. It was foiled by the
determination of Bagration's resistance, which permitted Baggohufwudt's
corps to be moved across to his support. On the part of the Russians
the occupation in force of the position north of the new road proved
a blunder, which the remarkable solidity of the Russian resistance
enabled the generals to repair in time.

As regards what is often considered Napoleon's fatal error in not
throwing in the Guard it is very doubtful whether it was an error
at all. It must be remembered that Ney's and Davout's troops were
almost, if not quite, fought out, that the Russians were still solid
and undemoralised, and holding a position quite as strong as that from
which they had been evicted; and that Kutuzov still had some almost
untouched reserves. The Guard would have had no easy victory, and
Napoleon was probably right when he refused to expose it to severe and
perhaps fatal losses. He knew that the Russians were neither routed nor
in disorder; and if they stood to fight again nearer Moscow he might
yet have sore need of his Guard. He was 1200 miles from the frontier of
his dominions, and in case of disaster all must depend upon it.

Of the minor tactics little need be said. On both sides they were crude
and wasteful. There was a deficiency of infantry on the French side,
and the cavalry was freely employed to supplement it, with the result
that it was half destroyed. The infantry formations were dense and
clumsy, it was a case of heavy mass pushing against heavy mass, with
cavalry mingled in the melée, and all under the fire of a thousand
or more pieces of artillery. It is no wonder that the losses were
unprecedented on both sides.

Napoleon gave his loss at 10,000. French writers admit the suspicious
round number of 28,000--6547 killed and 21,453 wounded--but Martinien's
lists show 49 generals and 1934 officers killed and wounded, and even
allowing for the fact that many of the effectives were now low, and
the proportion of officers to rank and file therefore higher than
usual, this can scarcely imply less than 43,000 casualties. Even the
troops which had never been sent forward had suffered somewhat from the

[Illustration: BATTLE OF BORODINO (September 7th, 1812)]

The losses of the First Russian Army from the 4th to the 7th of
September are stated by Bogdanovich at 9252 killed and 19,226 wounded.
Those of the Second Army may perhaps, since it contained only 54
battalions and 52 squadrons as against Barclay's 122 battalions and 112
squadrons, be estimated at 12,000. Adding the losses of the militia,
a total is obtained of possibly 41,000 or 42,000. Sir Robert Wilson
estimates it at 1500 officers and 36,000 men. Buturlin gives 15,000
killed and 30,000 wounded.

Prisoners there were few--perhaps 1000 or 1200 French and 2000
Russians. The estimates of guns captured are somewhat vague. Kutuzov's
official figure of French guns taken and carried off by the Russians is
8. There may, of course, have been others disabled. The Russians seem
to have lost about 18 in all.

On the field Borodino can scarcely be described as anything but a drawn
battle. Napoleon had gained a little ground, but the Russian army was
unbroken and apparently quite willing to renew the contest next day.
Strategically the French appeared to have obtained a slight success,
since they were able to continue their advance to Moscow. On the other
hand, the battle, which ruined the cavalry and seriously shattered the
infantry, brought ultimate ruin distinctly nearer. Perhaps its most
noteworthy result was the extent to which the morale of the Napoleonic
army was broken.


[Footnote 5: This is not absolutely certain, but appears to be proved
by the statements of eyewitnesses of the campaign. De Fezensac, for
example, says that the 3rd Corps had not yet exhausted its supplies
when it entered Moscow.]

[Footnote 6: Uvarov had 32 squadrons in all.]



THE morning of the 8th of September found the army of Napoleon
bivouacked among the dead and wounded on the field of Borodino. Only
the Guard was really ready for further combat. The corps of Davout
and Ney were terribly cut up; the 17th, 30th and 106th Regiments were
nearly destroyed. The cavalry, which had to compensate for Napoleon's
comparative weakness in infantry, had suffered fearfully. Nearly all
its corps and divisional commanders were killed or wounded; several
regiments were almost annihilated. The four corps of the reserves
counted some 19,000 men on September 2nd; on the 20th they could muster
little more than 10,000. Thousands of horses had been killed, and there
was no present possibility of being able to replace them, while the
wounded animals were mostly doomed to perish from lack of forage and
proper care. The cavalry of the Guard alone was in a state for serious

The fate of the wounded was horrible. Means of every kind for tending
them were lacking, and fortunate were those whose end was hastened by
the incurable nature of their hurts, or thirst and starvation. Days
elapsed before all had received so much as first aid; and this was but
the commencement of their miseries. The great monastery of Kolotskoï
became the principal hospital, and in its buildings the victims of
Borodino were huddled literally in heaps, without beds even of straw,
without food or fire, and without a tenth of the medical aid that was
needed. Some of the wounded officers were able to buy food, at enormous
prices, from the convoys which passed these dens of horror; but for
the unhappy rank and file, who possessed little or no money, there
was no hope. Sanitation there was none, and the unfortunate beings
died in thousands, amid filth, pestilence and neglect. François says
that in one hospital a dead officer was found who, in the agonies of
starvation, _had devoured his own arm to the bone_. It is a painful
task even to touch upon these sickening details, but to fail to do so
is to neglect the primary duty of an historian.

Besides the enormous diminution of the effective strength, the state
of the ammunition-trains was by no means reassuring. There is reason
to believe that the artillery had fired 90,000 rounds during the 5th
and 7th; the infantry must have expended millions of cartridges. It
is certain that, immediately after Borodino, Napoleon was anxiously
pressing for fresh supplies of ammunition; and it is doubtful if he
could have delivered another pitched battle before they arrived.

Worse than all, the spirit of the troops was grievously depressed.
The gaiety which commonly characterises Frenchmen, even in untoward
circumstances, had vanished. Gloomy silence reigned during the march
and in the bivouacs. The negative results of the great battle had
completed the discouragement of the troops. The French soldiers, at any
rate, were too intelligent not to have some inkling of the disasters
that might too probably lie before them.

On the whole Kutuzov might perhaps have remained longer on the field
of battle. It is, however, probable that his withdrawal to Mozhaïsk
was wise. He had dealt a tremendous blow at the efficiency and morale
of Napoleon's army, but in doing so his own forces had been fearfully
shattered. Had he remained in position the circumstance might have
decided Napoleon to use the almost untouched Guards, and so at the last
moment wring a victory from frowning Fortune.

When the sun dissipated the autumn fog which had enwrapped the field,
the Russian position was seen to be guarded only by the hovering
_pulks_ of Platov's Cossacks. Against them Murat moved such of his
exhausted horsemen as could be rallied; and before the advance of
regular squadrons the riders withdrew. Behind them, however, were
supports of infantry--the four Chasseur regiments of the 2nd Corps.
They gave back very slowly, and did not reach Mozhaïsk until 4 p.m.
By that time a large number of the Russian wounded had already been
evacuated. The town, however, was still choked with disabled men,
many of whom were in a state to be moved, and to cover this operation
Kutuzov directed Platov to hold it as long as possible. The Russian
main body was in position behind it.

Napoleon, as soon as he was assured that the Russians had really
retired, ordered Murat to press their retreat. The King had the
four reserve cavalry corps and the light horse of Ney and Davout as
before,--a total now of not more than 14,000 lances and sabres--but
Compan's shattered division was replaced by that of Dufour (_vice_
Friant wounded). The Emperor apparently at first believed that Kutuzov
was in full retreat, and the head-quarters baggage was directed on
Mozhaïsk; but Murat, as aforesaid, made little or no headway against
Platov; and the head-quarters could not be transferred. Desultory
skirmishing and cannonading went on until nightfall, when Platov was
still in possession of Mozhaïsk.

The firm front shown by Platov must have convinced Napoleon that the
spirit of the Russians was unbroken. He spent a part of the day in
going over the battle-field, examining the positions and reviewing
the troops according to his custom. In the afternoon he went forward
to join Murat, and on the way received another unpleasant reminder
of the unabated courage of his foes, some foragers being driven in by
Cossacks, and an alarm caused. On this day, however, a much needed
reinforcement arrived in the form of Pino's Italian division.

At about 10 a.m. on the 9th Platov was fiercely attacked by Murat,
expelled, and driven along the Moscow road. Murat's pursuit was checked
by a reinforcement of twelve battalions and a heavy battery sent
back by Kutuzov, but Mozhaïsk was lost, and Napoleon transferred his
head-quarters thither. Some thousands of the most seriously injured of
the Russian wounded were still there; and there were hideous scenes as
they were cast out of the houses for those of the French army, who, in
carriages and waggons, or dragging themselves along on foot, streamed
in piteous procession in rear of the leading troops. The Russian main
body retired deliberately to Semlino (or Shelkovka) about 12 miles east
of Mozhaïsk.

Napoleon himself remained for three days at Mozhaïsk recovering from
his cold, and transacting arrears of business. Already on August 27th
he had sent orders to Victor to bring the 9th Corps from the Niemen up
to Smolensk; and from Mozhaïsk fresh directions were despatched for
him. From Mozhaïsk also was sent the bulletin announcing the battle of
Borodino. As his cold rendered him speechless Napoleon wrote it with
his own hand; and, being at best an execrable writer, the result may
be imagined. The French losses are stated in it at 10,000. This would,
according to Napoleon's usual standard, indicate from 40,000 to 50,000

Meanwhile the Russian army was still steadily retiring on the high-road
to Moscow, and Murat deliberately following. Eugène, as before, marched
on the north by a track running roughly parallel with the main road by
the towns of Rusa and Zvenigorod, while Poniatowski formed the right
flank guard on the south. Junot remained at Borodino and Kolotskoï
to guard the hospitals. In support of Murat marched Mortier with the
divisions of Roguet and Claparède; and behind him Davout and Ney in
the order named.

Kutuzov was displeased with Platov for abandoning Mozhaïsk prematurely,
as he considered, and superseded him in the command of the rear-guard
by Miloradovich. On the 10th the Russian main body made another
deliberate march of about 8 miles, while Miloradovich stood to fight at
Krymskoië, some 3 miles short of Kutuzov's evening position. His force
consisted of six weak regiments of Chasseurs, four line regiments,
Uvarov's nearly intact cavalry division, and some Cossacks. He occupied
a low, partly wooded ridge; his left was covered by a marsh, his right
by woods, while in the centre the high-road approached the ridge by
a narrow gully which was commanded by the Russian guns. Clausewitz,
however, who was present, does not consider that the position was
particularly advantageous. The twenty defending battalions can hardly
have mustered over 6000 bayonets. Murat came up towards 5 p.m., and
developed a fierce attack by Dufour's division upon the right of the
position, defended by three Chasseur regiments under Colonel Potemkin.
After a hard struggle Potemkin was forced back from the summit of
the ridge, but he held firm, supported by three regiments sent to
his support by Miloradovich. Uvarov's horsemen succeeded in keeping
Murat's broken regiments at bay; and the Russians fought on doggedly
until darkness put an end to the contest. The Russian loss is stated,
probably with some exaggeration, at 2000. As Martinien's lists show 71
officers killed and wounded between the 8th and 10th, the French can
scarcely have lost less than 1200.

On the 11th the main Russian army marched 16 miles to Viazema (Viazma
on modern maps). Miloradovich retired to Kubinskoi, 8 miles from
Krymskoië, unpursued by Murat. Eugène and Poniatowski were nearly
level with Murat on the north and south, Mortier and Davout some
distance behind, and Ney only a short way past Mozhaïsk. On the
12th Kutuzov retrograded to Momonovo, a bare ten miles from Moscow,
while Miloradovich withdrew to Malo Viazema, 12 miles to the westward,
leisurely followed by Murat. On the same day Napoleon left Mozhaïsk for
the front.



This is practically the scene which Napoleon contemplated in 1812]

The question of the fate of Moscow was now imminent. It is at least
possible that Kutuzov would have risked another battle had there been
a fair prospect of success. But it cannot be said that this was the
case. All the way from Mozhaïsk the militia had been steadily joining,
but even so the army mustered less than 90,000 men, and of these only
65,000 were regulars, as against over 90,000 still under Napoleon's
hand. Many of the militia were as yet unequipped with fire-arms, and
all were raw and without training. Kutuzov could expect no further
reinforcements of regulars for weeks, whereas Napoleon would be joined
within ten days by Laborde's division as well as by some _régiments de
marche_. The defective state of his ammunition Kutuzov did not know.
The spirit of the Russian troops was indeed excellent, but against it
was the greatest military genius of modern times, backed by an army
wearied indeed, and in part much disheartened, but not yet demoralised,
and including 20,000 untouched and undiscouraged veterans.

On June 10th Count Feodor Vasilievich Rostopchin, a former favourite
and confidant of the ill-fated Emperor Paul, and a fanatical opponent
of the French alliance, had been appointed Governor-General of Moscow.
Whether he was the right man for his position must be questioned.
It does not appear that anything was done to organise and arm the
inhabitants or fortify the city. Nevertheless Rostopchin was furious
at the idea of abandoning Moscow. According to Wilson he never forgave
Kutuzov for keeping him in ignorance of the critical state of affairs.

As a fact he must have known that the evacuation of the city was to be
expected; and he appears to have been steadily clearing it as far as
possible of its inhabitants. This was the more practicable because in
the summer Moscow was considerably less populated than in the winter,
the nobles and their large households of serfs and retainers being
absent on their estates. Otherwise the Governor, who was not a soldier,
seems to have considered a good many rather wild plans of resistance.
It would have been perfectly feasible to defend Moscow with the 90,000
troops of Kutuzov, but its destruction would thereby have been rendered
inevitable. As regards Rostopchin's project of arming the inhabitants,
it is certain that such muskets as were available were obsolete and of
bad quality. For the rest, 200,000 human beings cannot abandon their
homes in a day, and since the French found the city nearly deserted it
is obvious that the exodus of the Muscovites had long been in progress.

On the 13th the Russians fell back to Fili, and took up a position on
the east side of Moscow, chosen by Bennigsen, who eulogises it in his
memoirs, saying that its only defect was that it was rather long. On
arriving Barclay proceeded to inspect it, while Kutuzov, who could ill
support the fatigue of the campaign, rested. Dokhturov, who apparently
had a touch of the courtier about him, proceeded to serve him a meal,
but the little picnic was quickly interrupted by Colonel Löwenstern
asking for Dokhturov, with whom Barclay wished to confer.

"As usual!" said Barclay as he sent off Löwenstern. "There they all
are, dancing attendance on the Prince, and not troubling about what
_they_ (the French) may do. Fetch Dokhturov here, even if his mouth is
still full."

Kutuzov apparently rather enjoyed Dokhturov's disappointment on being
thus interrupted. "You must not keep General Barclay waiting," he
remarked. "I shall manage very well by myself," and therewith proceeded
with his meal, while poor Dokhturov was obliged to go. Barclay and he
studied the position and came to the conclusion that it was too weak.

A council of war was called for four o'clock in the afternoon.
Bennigsen, still busy examining the position, kept the other generals
waiting until six. There were present Kutuzov, Barclay, Bennigsen,
Dokhturov, Konovnitzin, Raievski, Uvarov, Ostermann-Tolstoï, Yermólov,
Toll, and, later on, Platov. Bennigsen opened the discussion by asking
whether it was better to give battle or to abandon the capital. Kutuzov
interrupted him, pointing out that the question was not of Moscow, but
the salvation of all Russia, and that this clearly depended upon the
preservation of the army.

Barclay strongly supported Kutuzov, and he was followed by Raievski,
Konovnitzin, and Ostermann-Tolstoï. Barclay appears otherwise to have
had no great confidence in the ability of the Russian troops, diluted
with militia, to manoeuvre. When fighting generals such as Raievski and
Konovnitzin ranged themselves with him the question was practically
decided. According to Bennigsen he was supported by Dokhturov and
Platov; but his claim to have had the votes of Konovnitzin and Yermólov
is elsewhere contradicted. To his suggestion that battle should be
delivered Ostermann-Tolstoï replied with a blunt question as to whether
he was ready to answer for victory. Bennigsen evaded this embarrassing
query; but Kutuzov, who had perhaps already made up his mind, ended
the discussion by deciding upon retreat. As to its direction Barclay
appears to have considered that it should be to the eastward on
Vladimir and Nizhnii Novgorod; but Toll, thinking more of the question
of supplies, suggested a retirement towards Kaluga. A direct retreat
on the latter place would have exposed the army to one of Napoleon's
dreaded flanking attacks. Strategically Barclay's suggestion was
sound enough, if perhaps over-cautious. Clausewitz points out that
Napoleon's offensive power was exhausted, and that he could scarcely
have pursued.

Kutuzov decided that the line of the retreat should be by Kolomna
on Riazan, thus intermediate between that suggested by Barclay and
that proposed by Toll. By taking it no opening was afforded for a
flank attack; and it would be easy to manoeuvre on either wing should
occasion arise. The commissariat of the army would be assured since it
would have at its back the fertile "Black Soil" provinces; and it would
furthermore be in easy communication with the manufactories of arms at
Tula and elsewhere. Orders were therefore issued for the retreat of
the army by the Kolomna road. Bennigsen was extremely discontented,
and showed his displeasure by leaving the council. He attributed it to
Barclay, and their relations, already strained, became more hostile
than ever.

There can be no doubt that Kutuzov and Barclay were correct in their
resolution to retreat, but it was no light thing to make it. Kutuzov
was greatly agitated; he passed a sleepless night, and more than once
tears were seen to roll down his cheeks. No Englishman can perhaps
fully understand what it meant to a Russian to leave "White-Walled
Moscow," the mother of the Russian land, to the mercy of an enemy.

Barclay, though now in bad health, took executive command of the
evacuation. At 2 a.m. on the 14th the army began its passage through
the city. The troops, in the deepest dejection, tramped through the
streets with furled standards and silent bands, many of them, officers
and men, sobbing with rage and despair. The foreign commandant of the
Kremlin garrison regiment began the evacuation with band playing,
according to the usages of war, and there was a violent outcry
among the retreating soldiery. They indignantly shouted that he was
rejoicing, and the music had to cease.



The Emperor is standing on the Sparrow Hills, from which an imposing
view of the old Russian capital is obtained.

From the painting by Verestchagin.]

Barclay stationed his staff-officers along the line of retreat to
enforce order. Knowing the especial weakness of the Russian soldiers,
he issued strict orders that anyone found in a beer-shop or intoxicated
was to be summarily punished. He worked himself to death in directing
the march, and was on horseback for eighteen hours. He complained
bitterly of the inefficiency of the staff, which, as usual, did little
or nothing to facilitate the march. There was frequently disorder
among the retiring columns. None the less it must be said that the
operation was remarkably successful. By 9 o'clock in the evening, after
eighteen hours of incessant toil, 90,000 fighting men, more than 600
guns and thousands of vehicles, had been passed through the great city
and were on the Kolomna road. Kutuzov himself traversed Moscow in the
morning. An eyewitness states that he saw him near the Kolomna gate
sitting in his carriage quite alone, resting his head on his hands,
silent and sad, while before him troops, guns, and waggons poured in
an endless stream. The head of the army halted for the night at Panki,
a village about ten miles from the city, where Kutuzov established his

Meanwhile, early on the 13th, Napoleon halted his army, fearing that
Kutuzov was manoeuvring to attack his right flank. That he could
conceive such an eventuality shows how completely, and not for the
first time in the campaign, his cavalry had failed to keep touch with
the enemy. At 10 a.m., however, he became convinced that the Russian
army was still in his front, and resumed his march. At 1 p.m. on the
14th Murat's vanguard crowned the Sparrow Hills, about a mile and a
half west of Moscow, and saw before them in the plain the Russian
rear-guard, and beyond it the widespreading city--the goal which they
had toiled so strenuously to attain.

The Russian army was still pouring through the streets, and
Miloradovich sent an officer to Murat to propose a short armistice,
adding that if it were not granted he should defend the city step by
step, and fire it as he fell back. After a while a sort of informal
suspension of arms until 7 p.m. was made between Miloradovich and
Sebastiani, now commanding the 2nd Cavalry Corps. The Russians
evacuated the Dorogomilov suburb at 3 p.m., and Murat quietly followed.
At about the same time Napoleon reached the Sparrow Hills. He is said
to have gazed long and eagerly upon the goal of his wishes, now spread
out before his greedy eyes; but he may well have muttered the words
attributed to him: "It is full time!"

The Emperor approved of the informal truce concluded by Murat. The
peaceful occupation of Moscow was an end bought cheaply enough at the
price of the quiet withdrawal of the Russian rear-guard. Mortier was to
be Governor, General Durosnel Military Commandant, and M. Lesseps, who
had formerly been French Consul-General at St. Petersburg, Intendant
of the province of Moscow. Orders were issued to prevent the ingress
of plunderers. Eugène and Poniatowski were ordered to halt some miles
short of the city. Mortier was directed to occupy the Kremlin, and to
maintain order by severe methods. As the day wore on the 1st and 3rd
Corps and the old Guard closed up on Murat. It is a characteristically
French touch that the men had decked themselves out in their parade
uniforms to take part in the triumphal entry.

As Miloradovich evacuated quarter after quarter of the city Murat
advanced, dreading surprise, and taking great precautions against it.
The streets were deserted; silence reigned everywhere. Near the Kremlin
a tumultuous gathering of citizens and stragglers opened a scattering
fire. They were dispersed by cannon shots, and Murat moved on, only
to find silence and apparent desertion. Miloradovich marched through
the city and established himself for the night some 4 miles from the
Kolomna gate. Winzingerode's detachment, which had been falling back
before Eugène, was on the St. Petersburg road, and another cavalry
detachment was escorting the public treasure and the archives of Moscow
to Vladimir.

When at last it became evident that Moscow was indeed deserted by
most of its native inhabitants, a deputation of foreign residents was
collected to be presented to Napoleon. His mortification was extreme.
He quartered himself in the Dorogomilov suburb, and, between his
anxiety and the dirt and vermin of an ill-kept abode, spent a restless

Mortier had duly occupied the Kremlin with Roguet's division, sending
Claparède to support Murat. The silence of the city impressed even the
reckless soldiery of Napoleon. Sergeant Bourgogne naïvely expresses
it by remarking how disappointed they were to see not even a pretty
girl listening to the regimental bands. With darkness disorder broke
forth everywhere. It was impossible to prevent ill-fed and ill-clad
men from pillaging when all that they needed, not to speak of wealth,
which appeared to their ignorance inconceivable, lay ready to hand.
In the evening fires were already breaking out. In the morning of the
15th Napoleon, escorted by the Old Guard, took up his residence in the
Imperial Palace in the Kremlin.

It should here be said that the _Kreml_, or citadel, commonly known in
Western Europe as the "Kremlin," was the original fortress or walled
town of Moskva, fortified in 1147 by Prince Yurí Dolgorúki (Long-handed
George), the son of the famous Great Prince Vladimir Monomakh. Around
it grew up in the course of ages various suburbs, and these were in
their turn walled. As the streets were wide, and there were many very
large buildings--palaces, monasteries, and the like--often standing in
spacious gardens or enclosures, the city covered an enormous area. It
had the characteristics in general of a vast country suburb rather than
of a city.

A volume might be written concerning the burning of Moscow. The
catastrophe has been described in the works of numerous eyewitnesses,
and lengthy reference to the event itself hardly falls within the
compass of this work. Three points must, however, be dealt with: the
causes of the conflagration; its extent; and its effects upon the
fortunes of Napoleon.

As regards the origin of the fire it may be regarded as certain that
it was not the outcome of Russian patriotic frenzy. The whole evidence
is to the contrary; and the fury and grief of the Russians at the
destruction of their holy city were obviously genuine. It was equally
not due to the deliberate action of the invaders, who had every
motive for preserving the city for their own convenience. It remains
to be considered whether it was the act of Rostopchin or due to mere
accident, assisted by a fortuitous combination of circumstances.

Public opinion at the time attributed the conflagration to Rostopchin.
Two of his own residences were destroyed, and a few weeks later
he deliberately fired his country mansion at Voronovo in order to
prevent its seizure by the French. Sir Robert Wilson, who had means
of knowing, says that Rostopchin's design was notorious, and that in
order to prevent him from carrying it into execution Kutuzov repeatedly
announced his intention of delivering battle before Moscow. Buturlin,
the contemporary Russian historian, also attributes the fire to the

Rostopchin's own testimony cannot unfortunately be trusted. He, at the
time, admitted the responsibility of having burned Moscow. Nevertheless
later, as a voluntary exile abroad, he repudiated it. All that can
be said is that either he was really responsible, or that if not he
claimed the credit in the belief that the burning of Moscow would be
regarded as an heroic action, and only disowned complicity when he
found that it was generally considered atrocious.

The French believed that the fire was caused by Rostopchin's
incendiaries, and hundreds or thousands of the Muscovites remaining in
the city were hanged, bayoneted, or shot as such. The French, however,
as all their history goes to show, have an unhappy tendency to lose
their heads at a crisis, and it is certain that during the burning of
Moscow they were wellnigh insane with panic. For the rest, they were
utterly ignorant of their victims' language.

Certain facts appear to emerge from the confusion as proved:--

 (1) The city was by no means entirely deserted by the more respectable
 classes. Tutulmin, the director of the foundling hospital, remained
 at his post; and a certain number of merchants and gentlemen, some
 of Francophil leanings, did not leave. The foreign colony--chiefly
 French--also remained.

 (2) The lowest of the lower classes naturally remained; and the
 disreputable elements probably preferred to take their chance of
 making their profit out of the invaders. The criminals in the prisons
 had also been released.

 (3) Whatever may have been the case as regards the mass of ordinary
 private dwellings, the palaces and mansions, of which Moscow was full,
 as well as most of the many warehouses and shops, were abandoned, as a
 seaman might say, "all standing."

 (4) The fire was beginning as the Russian rear-guard left the city.

 (5) Plundering on the part of the invaders commenced almost
 immediately after their entry.

 (6) The wind changed its direction more than once.

 (7) The French captured and utilised a vast quantity of gunpowder.

 (8) Several thousand Russian wounded were left in the city.

The obvious deduction from (1) and (3) is that Moscow was hurriedly
evacuated, and this is further supported by the evidence of (7) and
(8). Had there been any settled plan of destruction one does not see
why the powder-magazines were not fired, and the buildings of most
importance to the invaders ruined. Nothing of this description was
attempted, and the ammunition was for the most part saved by the
French, to their great advantage. For the rest, with a mob of soldiery,
together with a mixed horde of camp-followers of all nations, beggars,
criminals, and prostitutes, plundering indiscriminately, there was
every opportunity for wanton destruction. The frequent changes of the
wind helped to spread the conflagration, and it was further assisted by
the fact that the great majority of the private dwellings were wooden

On the whole, regarding the question solely from the standpoint of the
established facts, it seems at least possible that the conflagration
of Moscow, like most events of the kind recorded in history, was
accidental in its origin.

It is probable that four-fifths of Moscow vanished in the
conflagration, but it is doubtful if the material injury inflicted
upon the invaders was very serious. In the city itself some 500
secular buildings of stone and brick survived, besides many churches
and convents. The Kremlin was little injured. It is also clear that
there were available great stores of food and other supplies. Forage
alone was lacking. De Fezensac, who now commanded the 4th Regiment of
Ney's corps, which was generally encamped outside the city, speaks of
trouble in obtaining supplies, and of poor and coarse fare, but not of
actual want. In Moscow itself there appears to have been a superfluity
of food, though flour was less abundant than other less necessary
supplies. Clothing and materials for manufacturing it were seized in
quantities, and no doubt the whole army could have been refitted had
organised attempts been made to that end.

It was the possession of Moscow which exercised a disastrous influence
upon the fortunes of Napoleon. Having failed to crush the Russian
field-army, and thereby force Alexander to make peace, he had now
become obsessed with the idea that the occupation of Moscow would bring
about the desired consummation of his hopes. There was, indeed, hardly
ever the slightest chance of their fulfilment, but Napoleon could not
bring himself to admit this, and lingered among the ruins for week
after week.

It is certain that fires were already commencing as the Russians
evacuated the city; but the first serious outbreak appears to have
occurred at a Government spirit store. It was extinguished, but
soon afterwards the great bazaar in which, as at Constantinople
and other Oriental cities, the bulk of the retail trade of Moscow
was concentrated, was found to be on fire. Both spirit stores and
shops would be natural marks for plunderers. The wind rose, drifted
inflammable wreckage across the city, and scattered it among the
wood-built suburbs, through which the conflagration spread with
terrifying rapidity. The stories that the fire engines had disappeared,
and that the ropes of the wells had been cut, may be taken for what
they are worth. It is obvious that little organised endeavour to
control the conflagration of a vast and largely wood-built city was, or
could be, made. The Guards in the central quarters soon abandoned all
efforts to fight the flames in order to devote themselves to plunder,
and the officers of the corps encamped outside, convinced that it was
vitally necessary to fill their nearly empty store-waggons, permitted,
or connived at, the entry of their own men to take part in the sack.

Napoleon himself remained in the Kremlin until the 16th, when a change
in the wind brought the conflagration from the suburbs to the inner
quarters of the city, and rendered residence in the Imperial Palace
dangerous, more especially since the larger part of the captured
powder-magazines were within the citadel. The Emperor left by the
river gate--the land fronts of the walled enclosure being practically
encircled by the flames--and proceeded along the quays, eventually
reaching the Imperial palace of Petrovski, some 2 miles on the
Petersburg road.

With Napoleon's departure pillage became universal. Some officers
endeavoured to induce their men to take food and clothing, but
apparently with little success, and that vast quantities of food were
saved was due to the fact that the half-famished troops naturally
turned to it. Murder and outrage went hand in hand with pillage. Many
inhabitants were massacred by the soldiery, maddened with licence and
intoxicating liquor; many others perished in the flames of their homes,
or in attempting to escape from them. The miscellaneous horde of female
camp-followers behaved as badly as the men. Paymaster Duverger relates
how he knocked down a ruffianly _cantinière_ who was robbing a sick
and helpless Russian lady. There is unhappily evidence that many of
the officers set a disgraceful example. Some pillaged openly; others
made a levy upon the plunder of their men. The Guards had the best
opportunities and gained an unenviable pre-eminence in misconduct.
Drunkenness was everywhere rife. The men of the 1st Corps were almost
as bad as the Guards, and probably this carnival of licence was the
event which contributed most to the destruction of their discipline
early in the retreat. It is worthy of note that Ney's corps, which took
little direct share in the sack, was the one which kept the best order
amid the horrors of the retreat. Marshal Lefebvre was furious at the
disorder in the Old Guard, and issued a severe order on the subject.



From the picture by Verestchagin]

On the 19th the conflagration began to die away, partly owing to the
equinoctial rains, and on the 20th Napoleon returned to the Kremlin.
Useless efforts were made to induce the inhabitants to return to the
ruined city, and the peasants to bring their produce to market.
For payment Napoleon had provided a supply of forged Russian paper
rúbles; but opportunities for uttering them were not forthcoming,
though some were distributed to the surviving inhabitants and to
charitable institutions. A few merchants and tradesmen accepted office
under the French, but after the destruction of Moscow the Russians who
entertained any feeling towards the invaders but that of bitter hatred
were few indeed.

On evacuating Moscow the Russian army made two leisurely marches on
the Kolomna road to where it crossed the Moskva, about 20 miles from
the capital. Kutuzov appears at first to have intended to continue
his march to Kolomna; but a conference with the Intendant-General
Lanskoï convinced him that there would be difficulty in diverting the
line of supply, and he decided to manoeuvre towards Kaluga. On the
17th, therefore, leaving Raievski's corps to cover the rear, he turned
westward, and marched along the Pakhra, a rivulet which here joins
the Moskva, until he reached the Moscow-Kaluga road. On the 21st he
took up a position behind the Pakhra, with an advance-guard, composed
of the 8th Corps and the 1st Cavalry Division, under Miloradovich at
Desna, only some 10 miles from Moscow. At the same time Dorokhov,
with the hussars of Yelisabetgrad, the Dragoons of the Guard, and
three regiments of Cossacks, was detached towards Mozhaïsk. This last
movement was perhaps premature, since it gave Napoleon early warning of
an intention to operate against his communications.

During the night of the 15th the glare of a vast conflagration had
reddened the sky to the north-west. All through the next four days
the bivouacs of the Russians were illuminated by the flames of their
burning "Mother City," while by day dense banks of smoke lay upon the
horizon, and charred fragments were frequently borne by the fierce
gales among their marching files. The effect upon the soldiers may
perhaps better be imagined than described. Whether the destruction of
Moscow were deliberate or accidental in its origin, it kindled in the
Russian army a flame of vengeful desire that endured until it marched
triumphantly into Paris in 1814.

Murat, with his advanced guard, strengthened by Claparède's division,
and supported by Poniatowski, was following the Russians. At the
Pakhra he lost touch, and not until the 23rd was the true direction of
Kutuzov's march ascertained and followed up, Raievski retiring on the
main army. Napoleon apparently did not believe that Kutuzov's whole
force was to the south of Moscow--at all events he adopted a dangerous
half-measure, which might have resulted in disaster. Murat was to press
the Russians' right, while a column under Bessières marched from Moscow
against their front. Bessières' force comprised the infantry division
of Friederichs (_vice_ Desaix), now increased by the 33rd Léger, a
brigade of light cavalry, Colbert's Lancers, and the 3rd Cavalry Corps
detached from Murat. Its strength cannot have exceeded 11,000 men,
while Murat certainly had not more than 25,000. Barclay and Bennigsen
urged an attack, and it is clear that Murat must have been destroyed,
or forced to retreat in haste. The cautious Kutuzov, however, inferred
that Bessières was merely Napoleon's advance-guard--as a fact the
Emperor did on the 28th issue orders for a general advance on the
Pakhra. As Kutuzov envisaged the situation, he would have the whole
_Grande Armée_, enormously superior in regular troops, upon his own
weakened forces. The superior condition of his cavalry and artillery
could scarcely be relied upon to give him more than a doubtful success.
On the other hand, every day would bring the winter nearer and ensure
the steady increase of the Russian numbers. He accordingly decided
to retire towards Kaluga. The 4th Corps was detailed to strengthen
Raievski, and Miloradovich took command of the rear-guard. On the
27th there was a brisk encounter of cavalry on the Pakhra. On the 29th
another engagement took place at Czerikovo. Poniatowski's infantry were
checked; General Ferrier was wounded and taken, and the advantage was,
on the whole, with Miloradovich, who retired very slowly, contesting
every mile of country.

On October 2nd the main Russian army reached Tarutino on the Nara,
some 50 miles from Moscow, and took up a position, to protect which
entrenchments were immediately commenced. Next day Sebastiani, always
unlucky, experienced a slight check near Voronovo, but when Murat's
main column began to arrive Miloradovich retreated to Spas Kuplia, 10
miles north of Tarutino. The 4th and 7th Corps were drawn back towards
the main army, covered by the 8th and most of the cavalry. Early on
the 4th Murat and Poniatowski surprised the Russians. Spas Kuplia was
carried and the 8th Corps driven back behind the Chernishnia rivulet,
half-way to Tarutino. Konovnitzin, with whom was Sir Robert Wilson, was
nearly captured, but he rode out of the danger-zone, his night-cap,
in which he had been surprised, showing under his cocked hat, puffing
coolly at his pipe all the time. So Löwenstern describes the scene. The
8th Corps rallied and held firm upon the Chernishnia until night, and
eventually retired across the Nara to Tarutino. The 2nd, 3rd and 4th
Cavalry Divisions (the first two now amalgamated) and some Cossacks
remained in observation of the French north of the Nara. Murat's
offensive power had exhausted itself, and he halted, disposing the bulk
of his force along the Chernishnia, with his advance troops at the
village of Vinkovo.

Meanwhile the presence of Dorokhov south-east of Moscow had caused
Napoleon to send some twenty miles on the road to Mozhaïsk, Broussier's
infantry division, the light cavalry of the 4th Corps, and the Dragoons
and Chasseurs of the Guard. This for the moment relieved the road to
Mozhaïsk, but the whole route to Smolensk was infested by Cossacks;
and Napoleon was obliged to issue an order that no body of troops less
than 1500 strong was to be risked along it. Kutuzov's withdrawal to
Tarutino seems for a short time to have improved matters near Moscow.
Murat, with the reserve cavalry, the bulk of the light horse of the
1st and 3rd Corps, the 5th Corps, Dufour's and Claparède's divisions,
remained on the Chernishnia. Broussier was stationed about 9 miles
west of Moscow; Friederichs on the Pakhra; the Guard Cavalry returned
to Moscow. Foraging detachments were despatched over the surrounding
country to gather in food and fodder--with poor results--and in this
manner a fortnight passed away.



For almost a month after Napoleon's return to Moscow on September 20th,
the main French army lay almost inactive about the city. The Emperor's
anxieties on the score of supplies had been to some extent relieved
by the quantities of food and ammunition captured. He says himself in
a letter to Lariboissière, the Chief of Artillery, that he has taken
300,000 pounds of powder, and an equal amount of sulphur and saltpetre,
besides an immense number of cannon-balls and 2,000,000 cartridges.
It can scarcely be imagined that, however much the habit of lying had
become ingrained in him, he would wilfully mislead the man whom, most
of all, it was necessary to furnish with correct information.

A number of cannon were captured, but all practically useless. The
Kremlin, in fact, was and is a museum of ancient weapons, mostly
preserved as trophies of Russia's victories over her enemies. Among
them now are hundreds of the guns of the Napoleonic _Grande Armée_
of 1812. The cannon had no carriages, but about twenty of them were
mounted by the French artillerymen on the walls of the ancient citadel.
The captures of ammunition were of extreme value. Napoleon exultantly
declared that he could fight four battles of the magnitude of Borodino.

Forage, however, was seriously deficient. The cavalry and artillery
of the Guard, which received supplies in advance of the other corps,
remained in fair condition, but that of the rest of the army rapidly
deteriorated. The horses died in great numbers. At the beginning
of October De Chambray estimates that already 4000 troopers were
dismounted. The misery in the advance-guard was great; breadstuffs
could hardly be obtained, and the men lived chiefly upon horse-flesh.

In Moscow matters were by no means satisfactory. The troops had indeed
shelter and food; but these advantages were dearly bought at the
price of a fatal relaxation in discipline. The privileged Guards were
bad offenders, and Napoleon himself had at last to complain of their
misconduct. The 1st Corps was little better. The 3rd and 4th Corps
were mostly outside the city. They lived chiefly from hand to mouth as
before, and though a considerable amount of flour had been warehoused
at Moscow Napoleon would not permit it to be issued, even when Berthier
reported Pino's division as being completely destitute. No issue was
made of clothing material until October 17th, nor were any preparations
made for rough-shoeing the horses. In the general relaxation of
discipline little was done by the men themselves. In the face of
proven facts such as these the statements as to Napoleon's unerring
and all-pervading foresight and activity, made even by respectable
witnesses such as Rapp and Fain, make somewhat foolish reading.

In a sense, indeed, Napoleon did provide for much--that is, he issued
orders which had they been at all applicable to the situation might
have effected a great deal. Such an order was that for the provision of
hand-mills for the troops. The need for them had been apparent during
the advance, and had they been provided earlier they would doubtless
have been invaluable. As it was the first convoy of them only came to
hand during the retreat, when they were useless.



On the extreme left is the Great Red Staircase--the State entrance to
the Palace. Next is the Uspanski Sabor, or Cathedral of the Assumption,
in which the Tzars are crowned. Behind it appears the Bell Tower of
Ivan Velikii]

Others of the Imperial orders were simply incapable of execution. One
of them, for example, gives directions for exploring the country for
two or three leagues on each side of the highway so as to find
parallel roads passing by villages and cultivated tracts. It would have
been extremely difficult to find such roads in fertile and well-peopled
Germany, and to expect to discover them in Russia was merely absurd. As
a fact, had they existed, the country was laid waste for a breadth of
forty or fifty miles by the destructive passage of two great armies.
The only criticisms that can be made in reading this order is that
Napoleon's intellect was either failing or so affected by pride and
over-confidence as to be fatally debilitated.

Yet in spite of his fatal optimism Napoleon was growing uneasy.
On his return to Moscow he induced Tutulmin, the director of the
Foundling Hospital, to be the bearer of a letter to Alexander. It
was a diplomatic document after Napoleon's fashion, compounded of
blandishments and threats; a characteristic touch is the careful
detailing of the war material which has been captured. The Tzar would
not deign to reply. Napoleon waited for a fortnight and then sent
General Lauriston to endeavour to open negotiations with Kutuzov.

However, gloomy as the prospect might appear to intelligent observers,
the bulk of the army was at rest, and, save in the vital matter of
horses, increasing in strength. During the latter half of September
there entered Moscow Laborde's division, the 1st battalion of
Hesse-Darmstadt Guards, three battalions of the 33rd Léger, and
several _régiments de marche_--in all some 10,000 infantry and over
4000 cavalry. In the first half of October there arrived nearly 17,000
men--_régiments de marche_, mostly infantry, and the battalions
which had been left in garrison at Orsha, Dorogobuzh, Viasma, and
elsewhere. The muster rolls were also swelled by a certain number of
convalescents. The fighting strength of the 5th and 8th Corps, which
were harassed by constant skirmishing, remained stationary or declined;
and the number of mounted horsemen steadily dwindled. But in the
1st and 3rd Corps there was a steady increase in the numbers of the
infantry and artillery. Reinforcements of artillery also arrived; there
were, indeed, more guns in Moscow than the enfeebled teams could draw.

The movements of the French main army during this period of comparative
quiescence were not very important. Eugène early in October pushed
an advance-guard to Dmitrov, some miles north of Moscow, while Ney
moved to Boghorodsk, about 25 miles eastward on the road to Vladimir.
The Russian cavalry screen, under Winzingerode, gave back before the
advance of the French columns, and there was little fighting. Ney
ordered the construction of barracks for winter quarters at Boghorodsk,
but De Fezensac pessimistically remarks that the sham deceived nobody.
Ney and Eugène were soon recalled to Moscow, and the entire army,
except Murat's advance-guard, was concentrated there on the 15th.

Meanwhile Murat, isolated on the Chernishnia at a distance of nearly 50
miles from the main army, and with a vastly superior army in his front,
was in a position of great danger. The peril was aggravated by the
scantiness of supplies and by the lack of forage, which was steadily
killing the over-worked horses. Skirmishing was continually taking
place, with general ill fortune to the invaders. Foraging parties had
to be pushed farther and farther afield, and needed larger and larger
escorts to protect them against the enterprising regular and irregular
cavalry of the Russians. On one occasion a foraging party of Dragoons
of the Guard, under Major Marthod, accompanied by a detachment of the
33rd Léger, was attacked and cut up. On October 9th Colonel Kudachev
with two regiments of Cossacks made a successful attack upon a large
foraging party, and carried off 200 prisoners. Similar skirmishes
were continually occurring. On October 10th Dorokhov, who had been
reinforced by five battalions and some more cavalry and artillery,
stormed Vereia, killing or capturing its garrison of 500 Westphalians,
and thus establishing himself dangerously near the Moscow-Smolensk road.

It has been seen that on October 4th Kutuzov had begun to entrench
himself at Tarutino. Bennigsen criticises the position severely. The
Nara in its front was everywhere fordable, and on the left there were
some unoccupied heights which might be seized by an assailant. However,
as matters went, there was little fear of an immediate attack, and the
Russians were so strong in cavalry that they could obtain early warning
of any move of the French from Moscow.

Soon after reaching Tarutino Barclay left the army. He had been deeply
wounded by the rancorous attacks made upon him by the ultra Russians,
and his relations with Bennigsen were very strained. Kutuzov had
treated him with great respect, and after Borodino had given him the
chief command of both Russian armies. But when a supreme commander
is present at the head-quarters of an army difficulties are certain
to arise. In 1864 the presence of General Grant with Meade's army of
the Potomac did not make for unity of command, though both officers
were men of the finest character. Barclay soon found his position
intolerable, and resigned. He was bitterly hurt, and told Clausewitz,
who had just been appointed to a post on Wittgenstein's staff, that he
might thank heaven that he was well out of it. It is impossible not to
sympathise with him, and at the same time not difficult to see that his
departure made for unity of command. Whether Kutuzov was the right man
for the post of commander-in-chief is another question. Barclay was
abominably ill-treated and insulted by the populace on his way to St.
Petersburg, but Alexander never lost confidence in him, and he emerged
from his retirement in 1813 to take command of the Russian armies in
Germany. His departure occasioned a show at least of regret among the
officers of the army, many of whom perhaps felt conscience-stricken
at the memory of ill-conditioned murmuring and mutiny. Most of the
generals came to bid him farewell; and Yermólov, who had been his worst
and most treacherous enemy, actually wept--an episode to which allusion
has elsewhere been made.

On the 24th of September, at a mansion on the road to Vladimir,
Bagration died. It is probable that travelling on the bad Russian roads
had brought on gangrene. On his death-bed he was visited by Wilson, who
was returning from his visit to Alexander. The Tzar, very wisely, had
judged it best to overlook the insubordination of the generals, and
had sent by Wilson the strongest assurances of his determination to
continue the resistance. He would, he said, sooner let his beard grow
to the waist and eat potatoes in Siberia, than permit any negotiations
so long as an armed Frenchman remained in Russia. The language may
perhaps be thought a little high-flown, but it possesses dignity in
that it was the expression of the firm resolution of the united Russian
nation. To the dying soldier Wilson repeated the brave words of the
Tzar. Bagration pressed his hand convulsively. "Dear general," he said,
"you have made me die happy, for now Russia will assuredly not be
dishonoured. _Accipio solatium mortis._" So passes from the scene the
fine Georgian soldier whose life had been spent in faithful service to
his adopted country. Wilson eulogises his good qualities, the kindness
and graciousness which his fiery temper perhaps at times concealed,
his generosity and chivalrous courage. Wilson was his devoted
admirer--the two had much in common. But in sober fact Bagration,
whatever his faults, had ever proved himself a worthy descendant of
the warrior-kings of the Bagratid line; and having adopted Russia, the
steady protector of the Caucasian Christians, as his country, he had
served her faithfully to the end. It is difficult not to feel a sense
of decline in passing from Barclay, the simple, devoted servant of
his country, and Bagration, the chivalrous descendant of kings, to the
caution and cunning of the pleasure-loving old aristocrat Kutuzov, and
the hardly disguised self-seeking of the soldier of fortune Bennigsen.

Kutuzov, from the field of Borodino, had sent a first brief and hasty
despatch stating that he had held his own and captured some guns. As
has been seen, the statement was only true in a general sense, since
the Russian troops had certainly been driven back a short distance.
This report was perhaps hurriedly penned in the exultation of finding
that he had fought the terrible conqueror for a long day without
real ill-success. A second despatch told the truth or something
near it, describing the battle as a drawn one--which it tactically
was--estimating Napoleon's loss as probably the greater, and insisting
upon the necessity of retreating in order to reorganise after the
tremendous losses. A third despatch attributed the chief merit of the
balanced success of the day to Barclay and Bennigsen. Alexander did
not publish the second despatch--whether wisely or not it is difficult
for an Englishman to judge. Kutuzov was promoted Field Marshal, and
received a grant of 100,000 rúbles. Barclay was decorated with the
order of St. George (2nd Class), and Bennigsen with that of St.
Vladimir (1st Class). Bagration, who wore all the Orders of Russia,
received a grant of 50,000 rúbles. Miloradovich, Dokhturov, Ostermann,
and Raievski received the order of St. Alexander Nevski. Each soldier
was awarded a gratuity of 5 rúbles--which, it may be hoped, was paid in
silver, not in the depreciated paper currency.

When in the midst of announcements of victory and of rewards the
news arrived that Moscow had been abandoned, the discouragement was
naturally great. In the army itself Kutuzov certainly felt very
dubious of success. At St. Petersburg the state archives were sent
into the interior, and the fleet was sent to winter in England. The
Empress Dowager, the Grand Duke Constantine, and the Grand Chancellor
Rumiantzev, were strongly in favour of peace; but neither domestic
nor political pressure, nor public alarm, appear to have shaken for a
moment the stern resolution of the commonly yielding, sensitive, and
dreamy Tzar.

Alexander's reply to the fall of Moscow was a proclamation to his
people calling upon them to rise superior to the loss, and to overwhelm
the invaders, whose position was painted in colours perhaps darker than
the reality. Preparations for continuing the war were energetically
pushed forward. Count Lieven was despatched as ambassador to London,
and with an assurance of Alexander's immovable determination to
continue the struggle at all hazards. For the present he asked nothing
but munitions of war. Later, when he had saved Russia, he intended
to do his best to free Europe from French domination, when he hoped
that Britain would not be sparing of her wealth. At this moment, be it
remembered, Napoleon was encamped among the ruins of the sacred capital
of Russia.

Meanwhile at Tarutino the reorganisation of the Russian army was being
energetically proceeded with. The man immediately responsible for it,
who justly received the major part of the credit, was Konovnitzin,
who has already been repeatedly met with in his country's battles.
Konovnitzin was a strong adherent and admirer of Barclay, and seems to
have possessed his chief's virtues of modesty and devotion to duty.

Borodino and the subsequent actions had grievously shattered all the
regiments, and some had been practically destroyed. These were either
dissolved or sent back into the interior to reform; the combined
Grenadier battalions were broken up and distributed; and the militia
and new recruits then drafted in. The experienced Russian generals did
not make the mistake committed by the leaders of the Spanish uprising
in 1808-1809 and swamp the battalions with raw levies. Only the picked
men who had received some training were sparingly introduced among the
war-seasoned soldiers. Even so Kutuzov was very distrustful of his

Horsemen cannot be trained so easily as foot-soldiers, and the
Russian cavalry could not be greatly increased in strength. Such
reinforcements as it received must have consisted of small drafts and
rejoining convalescents. It included the same regiments as had fought
at Borodino, but all were in a greatly reduced condition. The men,
however, were in high heart and the horses in excellent condition. The
artillery was also in admirable order.

Alexander had made an appeal to the loyalty of the Don Cossacks, which
was seconded by the great personal influence of Platov. By the middle
of October there were present in the Moscow theatre of war some fifty
regiments of irregular horsemen.

Reorganisation and steady reinforcement had their effect. The numerical
strength of the Russian army at Tarutino began to rise at once, and
its efficiency steadily increased. The number of battalions had fallen
to 147 by October 18th, but they had all been brought up to an average
strength of over 500 bayonets, except those of the Guard, which, having
no depôts at hand, were rather weaker. By October 23 the strength of
the Russian Grand Army, including its detachments, had risen to 105,000
regulars, including 12,000 cavalry, and nearly 20,000 Cossacks, with an
artillery train of some 650 guns excellently appointed and horsed.

Kutuzov made certain changes in the organisation. The entire regular
cavalry was massed in four unequal "Corps," one of which consisted
of Cuirassiers. Lieutenant-General Prince Golitzin I received the
command of the Cuirassier Corps, and the 1st and 3rd were given to
Major-Generals Baron Müller Zakomelski and Vassilchikov respectively.
Baron Korff continued to command the 2nd, which was increased to 8
regiments of Dragoons, and 1 or 2 of light cavalry. The various army
corps still retained their old leaders, except the 3rd, which was now
commanded by Strogonov.

At the same time some changes were made in the higher commands.
Miloradovich practically took the place of Bagration--by no means
unworthily--while General Tormazov was called from the west to succeed

Strategically the army was organised by Kutuzov into an advanced
guard, under Miloradovich, a _Corps de Bataille_, under Tormazov,
six Flying Columns, and six Cossack detachments. The advanced guard
included the 2nd and 4th Army Corps, the 2nd and 3rd Cavalry "Corps,"
and 4 regiments of Cossacks. The _Corps de Bataille_ consisted of
the 3rd, 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th Army Corps, and Golitzin's and
Müller-Zakomelski's cavalry. The Flying Columns were: (1) Platov's,
comprising 13 regiments of Cossacks, 1 of light infantry, and a
horse battery; (2) Winzingerode's, of 1 regiment of Hussars, 1 of
Dragoons, 7 of Cossacks, and a battery, observing Moscow on the
north; (3) Dorokhov's, observing Mozhaïsk, ultimately increased
by detachments to 5 battalions, 16 squadrons, a battery, and some
Cossacks; (4) Orlov-Denisov's, consisting of 6 regiments of Cossacks
and 6 guns; (5) Karpov's, comprising 7 regiments of Cossacks; and
(6) that of Major-General Count Ozharovski, composed of 4 regiments
of Cossacks, 1 of Hussars, a regiment of light infantry, and 6 guns.
The Cossack detachments which infested the Moscow-Smolensk road, were
those of Colonel Kaisarov (3 regiments), Colonel Prince Kudachev (2
regiments), Colonel Yefremov (2 regiments), Lieutenant-Colonel Davidov
(2 regiments), Captain Seslavin (1 regiment), and Captain Figner (1

The Russian army at Tarutino experienced little or no privation.
Supplies of food were plentiful. Forage after a time grew scarce in
the immediate neighbourhood, and it was necessary to send to some
distance to obtain it, but the horses remained in excellent condition.
Löwenstern says that the army had never fared better; it was even
possible to obtain luxuries from the merchants who visited the camp.
Dry fuel alone was lacking. To obtain it the villages within the
Russian lines were almost entirely demolished.

While making a show of preparations for the fortification and
provisioning of Moscow the French Emperor, on October 4, sent his
aide-de-camp, General Lauriston, who had been Ambassador at St.
Petersburg before the war, on a mission to Kutuzov. Lauriston's real
object was to ascertain the chances of peace. It was certain that his
mission could have no success. Apart from the firm resolve of the Tzar
the generals at Tarutino were bitterly determined, and kept a close
watch upon their commander-in-chief. Kutuzov consented to receive
Lauriston; and thereupon his subordinates requested Wilson to inform
him that if he conferred privately with Lauriston he would be deposed
from the command. Kutuzov himself, not very confident of the ability of
his army to beat Napoleon's, persisted in his determination to receive
Lauriston, but consented to do so publicly in the first instance. He
then had a private conversation with the French general, of which he
afterwards gave an account to Count Langeron. He ultimately consented
to pass on a letter brought by Lauriston to St. Petersburg; but
declared that he had no power to conclude an armistice.

The successes of Schwarzenberg and St. Cyr appeared to make the French
line of communications fairly safe, and the calling up of Victor's
9th Corps to Smolensk was an additional measure of security. The 9th
Corps crossed the frontier on September 3. It was increased by the
addition of four German regiments to a strength of 33,500 men. Victor
left Coutard's German brigade at Vilna, and with the rest of the corps
marched for Smolensk, where he arrived on September 27. Napoleon had
appointed Comte Baraguay d'Hilliers Governor-General of the province
of Smolensk, but he could do little to collect supplies and keep the
roads clear. The country was infested by small parties of Cossacks and
of armed peasantry on the one hand, and on the other by numbers of
stragglers, disbanded troops and marauders belonging to the invading

Until the arrival of the 9th Corps troops were entirely lacking
wherewith to suppress the disorder, and it will soon be seen that
Victor could make but a brief stay at Smolensk. Baraguay d'Hilliers,
worried and distracted by Napoleon's angry complaints, gave his
master the facts of the situation in two letters, which enable us to
appreciate the precise state of things in rear of the _Grande Armée_.

The armed peasants and Cossack detachments checked foraging operations
and cut off detachments. At Smolensk, indeed, there was a strong
garrison. A provisional administration had been organised, on paper,
under the superintendence of M. de Villeblanche; but the town was
ruined and nearly deserted. General Charpentier could organise strong
foraging parties, but had no artisans to construct barracks and
bakeries, or to manufacture clothing and equipment. From Smolensk
to Gzhatsk there was hardly any protection for the road. Baraguay
d'Hilliers declared that, after providing for the necessary garrisons
of the posts, he could dispose of only 600 men, in three detachments,
for police and foraging operations on a line of some 200 miles! As to
establishing markets as Napoleon ordered, he frankly exposed the utter
absurdity of the idea. For removing wounded and forwarding supplies
there were not a fifth of the vehicles required.



Commander of the 9th French Army Corps

From the painting by Gros at Versailles]

Detachments on the march to Moscow straggled for many miles north
and south of the high-road in order to forage, and it was impossible
to keep them in hand. One officer, in charge of a convoy, reported
that his escorts melted away one after another; and he entered
Moscow alone! The marauders committed nameless atrocities, which amply
explain and to some extent justify the terrible retaliations of the
peasants during the retreat. It is an ungrateful task to allude to
these horrors, but one hideous incident given by Löwenstern must be
mentioned, if only to afford a proper impression of what a state of
warfare in Napoleonic days implied.

Among the Russian leaders of irregulars Captain Figner early acquired
a terrible reputation for blood-thirsty cruelty towards his French
and Polish foes, to whom he gave no quarter in battle, and whom,
when captured, he massacred without pity. His savagery was strongly
reprobated in the Russian army, except in the case of a number of
fierce spirits whom the sufferings of their country had maddened. Even
the wild irregulars looked askance at Figner; and for the execution of
his savage orders he could not always rely upon them.

Figner himself declared that he acted from conscientious motives. While
on one of his expeditions he surprised a marauding party--evidently
consisting of Frenchmen and Poles--in a village which they had sacked.
In the church they had penned a number of women and girls, and outraged
and tortured them with horrible barbarity, crucifying them about the
building--partly in order the more easily to gratify their brutal lust,
partly no doubt from sheer love of cruelty. Into this hideous orgy
burst Figner and his Cossacks. Most of the ravishers were captured. The
unhappy victims--such of them as survived--were rescued; and there and
then, before the desecrated altar, the Russian leader swore a solemn
oath never to spare a Frenchman. He shut his prisoners up in the church
and fired it over them; and thereafter, until he was killed in the
following year, Frenchmen were to him but as vermin to be exterminated.
It is futile to comment upon the moral ethics of his determination.
It is only evident that in Russia, as in Spain, the brutality and
lust of the French conquerors sowed the seeds of a terrible harvest of

In spite of the disorder in Napoleon's rear there is no doubt that
the French numbers rose steadily during the halt. Presumably the
stragglers therefore--or such of them as survived the Cossacks and
armed peasants--drifted in eventually. But it is hardly necessary to
point out that such a method--or lack of method--of marching was the
worst possible preparation for a retreat in which strict discipline and
careful order would be before everything necessary.

What Napoleon's own plans were is extremely doubtful. The troops
generally anticipated that they would winter in Moscow--but this of
course implies nothing. Count Daru certainly suggested doing so,
positively stating that to his knowledge the supplies were sufficient
and shelter ample. But on the other hand the lines of communication
were already seriously threatened, and though the army in Moscow might
have been preserved it must have lost most of its horses, and Napoleon
would have been cut off from France for several months.

The Emperor is credited by Fain with the intention of advancing upon
St. Petersburg. This project was a most extraordinary one, and it
passes human comprehension how Napoleon could have imagined it. It is
useless to give it in detail. The essential part is that the army is
to march upon Velikii Luki, about 90 miles north-east of Polotsk, and
300 from Moscow, through a fertile country (it is actually quite the
reverse), and thus threaten St. Petersburg--200 miles farther on, over
barren and sparsely-peopled country. The time allowed for accomplishing
the movement appears to be about fifteen days! Farther comment is
surely unnecessary.

Clausewitz considers that Napoleon must always have intended to retreat
by the direct road to Smolensk, the only one in any sense guarded and
furnished with magazines. On the Kaluga road, he says, the army would
have starved within a week. He therefore infers that in marching upon
Kaluga, as he eventually did, Napoleon merely intended to manoeuvre or
push Kutuzov out of the way.

The facts, of course,--which Clausewitz may not at the time have known
accurately--were that the country along the Smolensk-Viasma-Moscow
road was absolutely devastated, that forage could not be obtained upon
it, while farther south matters were better; and that east of Smolensk
there were practically no magazines.

Jomini is of opinion that Napoleon would have done best to retreat upon
Vitebsk. The country, however, was poor and thinly peopled, and the
roads were very bad; the only advantage of the plan was that the army
would have gained a considerable start of Kutuzov.

Finally, there was the design of retiring by Kaluga on Smolensk. The
roads were bad, but probably better than those on the north, since
there were upon them some considerable towns. The country was tolerably
fertile and--for Russia--fairly well peopled; there were, besides,
magazines at Kaluga and elsewhere which might be captured. Further,
there was the opportunity of destroying the factories of arms and
ammunition at Tula.

How long Napoleon would have remained at Moscow is doubtful. His
orders during October for the evacuation of the hospitals show that he
meditated departure; but he still waited, hoping against hope that the
stubborn Tzar would at length give way, until on October 18th came the
news that Kutuzov had taken the offensive.

Kutuzov himself appears not to have had very much confidence in the
solidity and ability to manoeuvre of his army. Murat's position,
however, was such as to tempt even a cautious commander; and Kutuzov
gave way to the energetic representations of Bennigsen and Toll. An
attack was fixed for October 17th, but bad staff arrangements compelled
it to be postponed until the 18th. Bennigsen gives no reasons.
Bogdanovich and Löwenstern both blame Yermólov. Löwenstern says that
recalling the horses from their distant foraging grounds caused great
delay and that Yermólov did not inform General Baron Löwenstern, the
artillery commander, in time.

The Nara, flowing from the west, turns sharply to the southward some
5 miles north of Tarutino; and soon after is joined on the left by
the Chernishnia rivulet. Close to Tarutino it again turns abruptly
eastward. The road from Kaluga runs northward through Tarutino for
nearly 5 miles to Vinkovo, a village about 2 miles from the mouth of
the Chernishnia, and then proceeds for 5 miles to Spas-Kuplia, where it
passes between two woods.

Murat's line stretched from the confluence of the Chernishnia with
the Nara to the hamlet of Teterinka, some 5 miles to the westward,
and about 4 south of Spas-Kuplia. Vinkovo, which lay south of the
Chernishnia, was occupied by Claparède's Poles, supported by the 3rd
Cavalry Corps, under General St. Germain, and a division of the 1st.
To the left rear of Vinkovo lay Dufour's division, with the rest of
Nansouty's cavalry corps on its left. Still farther to the south of the
Chernishnia stood Poniatowski's corps, with Sebastiani's cavalry on the
extreme left. Latour-Maubourg was watching the Nara on the right rear.
Murat's whole strength hardly exceeded 25,000 men; he was encumbered
rather than supported by about 180 miserably horsed guns; and his 9000
or 10,000 cavalry were in a wretched state.


General position at moment when Murat's retreat began]

The Russian plan contemplated a demonstration by part of the bulk
of the army against Murat's extended front, while Bennigsen, with a
force composed of the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Corps, Müller Zakomelski's
cavalry, and 10 regiments of Cossacks under Orlov-Denisov, turned his
left. Miloradovich was to move towards Vinkovo with Korff's and
Vassilchikov's cavalry, while behind him the rest of the army debouched
from Tarutino.

Orlov-Denisov and Müller Zakomelski fell, about 7 a.m. on the 18th,
upon Sebastiani's bivouacs, while Baggohufwudt attacked the 5th Corps
in front. His advance had been revealed by the growing light and
some premature shots, and the Poles were able to form and oppose a
vigorous resistance. One of the first shots from their artillery killed
Baggohufwudt, and his fall rather dashed some of his young troops,
especially when the remains of the French Carabiniers, led by Murat
himself, gallantly charged the 48th Russian Chasseurs. The Russian
cavalry on the right, however, swept away Sebastiani, capturing most
of his baggage and artillery, and pushed on towards Spas-Kuplia, which
they occupied, thus cutting Murat's line of retreat. The position would
have been critical had the Russian horsemen been supported by infantry.
The whole of the French line gave back in haste, but the Russian 2nd
Corps, imposed upon by Murat's bold charge, and shaken by the fall
of its leader, followed very cautiously. Ostermann-Tolstoï failed to
advance with the necessary speed; and Bennigsen thought himself obliged
to hold back the 3rd Corps until the arrival of the 4th. The result was
that the entire French army, in great disorder, indeed, and suffering
considerably from the Russian artillery fire, succeeded in effecting
its retreat. Orlov-Denisov and Müller Zakomelski were obliged to
abandon Spas-Kuplia as infantry came up; and the line of retreat was
clear. Meanwhile Kutuzov was executing his part of the programme very
slowly or not at all. Only Miloradovich's cavalry, supported by five
infantry regiments, crossed the Chernishnia and pressed the rear of the
retreating columns towards and through Spas-Kuplia, where the pursuit
ceased. Murat retreated to Voronovo, where he rallied his shaken
troops, while the Russian main body tranquilly returned to Tarutino.
Miloradovich with the now formally constituted advance-guard was
stationed at Vinkovo.

The French returns, which are manifestly incomplete, show a loss of
2795 men, of whom 1151 were prisoners or missing. The bulk of the
diminution was in the 5th Corps and Sebastiani's cavalry; Claparède and
Dufour were scarcely engaged. Two generals were killed and two wounded.
The Russians claim to have lost only 502 killed and wounded. They
captured 37 guns, a standard, and a mass of baggage.

Bennigsen was exasperated at Kutuzov's tardy and slight support, though
his own conduct had not been too energetic, and the breach between them
widened. It was already great, Kutuzov relying upon the retiring and
hard-working Konovnitzin far more than on Bennigsen.

The Russian success at Vinkovo, incomplete as it was, none the less
dealt a heavy blow to the already shaken _morale_ of the Napoleonic

As the period of Napoleon's evacuation of Moscow has now been reached,
it appears necessary to survey the positions occupied by the various
sections of the opposing forces.

Dealing first with the invaders--

The Imperial Guard, Grand Head-quarters, the Cavalry Reserve, and the
bulk of the 1st, 3rd, 4th, and 5th Army Corps were encamped, under
Napoleon's personal command, in the environs of Moscow. About Mozhaïsk
was the 8th Corps, under Junot, the total combatant strength of this,
the original Grand or Central Army, including engineers, gendarmerie,
etc., being nearly 125,000 men.

At Viasma was a column of drafts under General Evers, which with the
garrisons at Gzhatsk and elsewhere may be estimated at about 5000 men.

About Smolensk there were the 129th and Illyrian regiments from
Ney's corps, three 3rd battalions of the Vistula Legion, and some
of the Hesse-Darmstadt Guards belonging to the Imperial Guard, a
Mecklenburg regiment and a battalion of the 33rd Léger (1st Corps); a
Polish cavalry regiment (5th Corps); and about 8000 men in _régiments
de marche_--say 16,000 in all, including 1500 cavalry under General
Baraguay d'Hilliers.

In the neighbourhood of Smolensk also was cantoned the 9th Corps, under
Victor, some 26,000 strong.

At Vitebsk and in its neighbourhood were a battalion of the 9th Corps
and a few drafts--say 1000 men.

Between Smolensk and Orsha there were in garrison perhaps 3000
men--drafts, convalescents, engineers, and Polish levies.

At Mohilev were 1 infantry and 1 cavalry regiment of Dombrowski's
division, about 1500 men. The rest of the division, about 5500 men with
20 guns, was spread to the south-westward.

At Minsk and Borisov and scattered about the neighbourhood there were
2 weak French battalions, some depôt troops of various nations, a
weak Württemberg infantry regiment, and 4 battalions and 4 squadrons
of untrustworthy Lithuanian levies--less than 6000 in all, under
General Bronikowski. At Slonim General Konopka was organising the new
Lithuanian Lancer Regiment of the Guard, which with a few other levies
may be estimated at 1000 men.

Between Minsk and Kovno there were various depôts, _régiments de
marche_, and a number of Polish and Lithuanian levies, totalling
perhaps 14,000 men, and Coutard's brigade of the 9th Corps, 2500 strong.

In Kurland and before Riga Macdonald's 10th Corps now numbered perhaps
26,000 men.

In and about Polotsk lay the 2nd Corps, the remains of the infantry
of the 6th, and Doumerc's Cuirassier Division--about 30,000
combatants--under Marshal St. Cyr.

Schwarzenberg had at Wengrow, Bielostok, and elsewhere about 37,000
men, comprising 22,000 Austrians, nearly 10,000 Saxons, and about 5000
Poles. Marching to join him were 5000 Austrians, and a French division
(Durutte) of the 11th Corps, 13,000 strong.

At Königsberg and in the neighbourhood was Loison's division of the
11th Corps, 13,000 men, French, German, and Neapolitans.

In addition there were in Poland and Prussia, in garrison or moving up
to the front, about 21,000 men of various arms.

The total force of the Napoleonic army, therefore, on Russian soil or
about to move across the frontier was, in the middle of October, some
351,000 men.

In Germany, for the most part along the line of the Oder, was the
rest of the 11th Corps, under Marshal Augereau. It consisted of
two provisional divisions under Generals Heudelet and Lagrange, a
Neapolitan division in Danzig under General d'Estrées, Cavaignac's
cavalry brigade, and some detached troops, amounting, with artillery,
to about 40,000 men; besides perhaps 27,000 drafts. Of these troops,
67,000 in all, about 55,000 were on the Vistula at the close of the
campaign. Adding these to the 351,000 troops already beyond that river
the total of Napoleonic troops still bearing on Russia was 406,000. As
the aggregate employed during the campaign has been elsewhere estimated
at 674,000, it results that 268,000 men had already disappeared from
the fighting line. Some, no doubt, had returned home invalided, some
had been taken by the Russians; a certain number had no doubt fallen
into good hands in the country and ultimately recovered from their
injuries. But by far the larger number were already dead.

To these 406,000 actual and prospective enemies Russia opposed the
following forces:--

At and near Tarutino and around Moscow, under Field-Marshal Prince
Golénischev-Kutuzov, were 105,000 regulars and 20,000 irregulars. Under
Wittgenstein, near Polotsk, were 40,000 regulars, irregulars, and
militia. Marching to reinforce Wittgenstein was Count Steingell with
10,000 men, almost all regulars. At Riga, under Essen I, there were
perhaps 15,000 troops.

Admiral Chichagov had under his general command about 70,000 men in
all, including General Lüder's division coming from Serbia. Ertel at
Mozyr now had about 14,000, while Bobruisk was garrisoned by 6000.
Finally, in small regular detachments, drafts of recruits and militia,
and Cossacks, there were perhaps 30,000 men on the march to reinforce
the various armies. The Russian total therefore was nearly 310,000 men.



The battle of Vinkovo put an abrupt end to any hopes which Napoleon may
yet have cherished as to a speedy conclusion of peace. It is fairly
obvious, however, that he had already made up his mind that Moscow
must be abandoned. On October 14th orders were reiterated to evacuate
the hospitals at Mozhaïsk and elsewhere by the 20th. Junot was also
directed to destroy arms which could not be carried away. Evers' column
of reinforcement, which had already passed Viasma, was turned back to
that town; and other _régiments de marche_ were ordered to remain at,
or return to, Smolensk.

The condition of the army needs careful consideration. Montholon,
who may be regarded as speaking for his master, says that it was
strengthened and revivified by its long rest, that it had twenty days'
supply of food, that it was abundantly provided with ammunition.

It is to be observed that this categorical _apologia_ does not mention
the vitally important matters of discipline, clothing, and horses. Of
these something will presently be said. The points noted by Montholon
may be discussed one by one.

In the first place a distinction must be drawn between the troops in
and about Moscow and those belonging to Murat's advance-guard.

Of the former, it may be said that they were, as regards the men, in
fair physical condition. Even here, however, a distinction must be
made. The Guards and the 1st Corps had been lying inactive for four
weeks. They had had the benefit of the best that Moscow could afford;
and certainly should have been in first-rate condition. But, on the
other hand, they had been living freely, upon food not always as
nourishing as attractive to rough men, and upon the wines and spirits
which abounded in the palaces and warehouses, and were probably hardly
prepared for new and terrible hardships. The 3rd and 4th Corps had been
generally encamped outside Moscow, had obtained little by pillage, and
had been uselessly fatigued and over-worked by constant foraging and
outpost work. Yet it is possible that these unpampered men were really
better prepared for what lay before them than the Guards and Davout's

As to the question of food supplies it is difficult to express an
opinion. It is certain that food was not lacking, and probably the
troops might have carried with them twenty days' rations had discipline
been good and transport abundant. As it is, it is clear that the army
was short of supplies within ten days of its departure from Moscow.

There is no reason to doubt Napoleon's statement that the supply of
ammunition was abundant.

Napoleon having, according to his custom, dealt entirely with material
matters, it may be well to follow in his footsteps before considering
things moral. The evidence of survivors is all to the effect that the
troops were badly and inadequately clothed. Except in so far as some of
them were supplied from the pillage of Moscow the men had only the worn
and tattered uniforms which had served them all through the advance.
The footgear was much worn, and the underclothing in a deplorable
condition. Bourgogne, a sergeant in the Young Guard--one of a favoured
corps, therefore--speaks of wearing a shirt until it rotted upon him.
Only on the 17th of October were leather and linen issued, and it was
then too late to make up the material.



Built by the famous Tzar Ivan the Terrible in the latter half of the
16th century]

Whatever might be the state of the army's supplies it lacked transport
for them. The horses were dying steadily from fatigue, sickness and,
above all, lack of food. The state of the cavalry has been noticed,
and the artillery and trains were naturally in equally bad condition.
Napoleon refused to abandon any of his vast and wretchedly horsed
artillery in order to lighten the dead weight which encumbered the
march. It would have been wiser to leave behind a part of the enormous
mass of ammunition and to fill up the artillery waggons with food
or forage. The commander of the artillery of the Young Guard did do
something of the kind, with good results, but for the most part the
dread of Napoleon effectually hindered such common-sense action. The
draft horses, in bad condition, and overloaded in any case, without
considering non-military and unnecessary further additions, began to
die at the very beginning of the retreat, and the artillery and trains
were lost piecemeal. Much of what food and forage the army took with it
was lost early, owing to the failure of the transport.

One fact is curious and inexplicable. It might have been thought that
the most strenuous exertions would have been put forth to provide the
individual soldiers with plenty of breadstuffs, when the deficiency of
the transport was well known. There is evidence that food was left in
Moscow. De Fezensac states that he made a present of the flour which he
could not carry away to some Muscovites whom he had fed during his stay
in the city. The incident does honour to his humanity. Yet one wonders
why he did not distribute it among his soldiers, who were ere long
dying of want. It is clear that little food was carried by the soldiers
themselves, and the reason for this is probably connected with the low
_morale_ of the army.

A long course of excess of every kind had weakened such sense of
honour as the bulk of the men possessed, and the scattered barracking
necessitated by the destruction of the greater part of the city
rendered the maintenance of order very difficult. So far as can be
judged, constant drill was by no means a feature of the Napoleonic
army, and inspections of kits were apparently often perfunctory. It is,
at any rate, certain that they were so during the sojourn in Moscow.
Haversacks and knapsacks, instead of being stored with necessaries,
too often contained plunder. The officers either made no determined
attempt to check the evil, or their efforts were without avail. It is
probable that the former discreditable condition of affairs actually
obtained. Brigandage was rife in the Napoleonic armies, and numbers of
officers had their private vehicles laden with plunder. Generals were
often no better. Napoleon himself added to the encumbrances of the army
two convoys of spoils, one of gold and silver bullion, the presence
of which may be justified, the other of objects of purely sentimental
value, for which excuse can hardly be made. It was but another example
of the paltry spirit which impelled Napoleon to desecrate the tomb of
Frederick the Great. It is difficult to blame subordinate officers when
their ruler and their generals set so evil an example, still less is
it possible to find fault with the ignorant soldiery. Be this as it
may, lack of discipline, fostered by a low sense of honour among the
officers, and greed of plunder, was not the least of the causes of the
destruction of the _Grande Armée_.

Finally, the pernicious practice of permitting the troops to march in
disorder was soon to be productive of fatal consequences. Officers and
men had grown so accustomed to it that its extent was probably not at
first realised, and it soon became impossible to check it. The results
were terrible. The worse element among the suffering troops had every
opportunity for disbanding, and the Russian irregulars, who could
achieve little against closed bodies of infantry, were able to commit
immense havoc.

Over and above all this the army was encumbered by a disproportionate
throng of non-combatants. Besides the ordinary camp-followers, male
and female, it has already been observed that there were with the army
a number of persons--partly women--who should not have been permitted
to accompany it. There were sick and wounded to the number of at least
several thousands at the outset. The French colony at Moscow mostly
fled with the army. Also a number of Russian prostitutes, and even a
good many women and girls of better stamp--including some of the upper
classes--accompanied men who had formed connections with them.

The precise state of feeling in the army cannot be ascertained. There
is no doubt that the struggle at Borodino had badly affected its
_morale_, and the French troops at least with their quick intelligence
must have looked forward to the future with dread. On the other hand,
their natural light-heartedness and their belief in Napoleon probably
sustained their spirits. The foreign element was, doubtless, even less
hopeful. That the more reflective among the officers were filled with
misgiving is indubitable; and there was much discouragement among the
generals, many of whom, besides, were war-weary and yearned for rest.

Thus, disorganised, with discipline shattered, ill clothed, ill
supplied, deficient in transport but laden with useless plunder,
encumbered with sick, wounded, and helpless non-combatants, and with
demoralisation latent everywhere, the _Grande Armée_ set out from
Napoleon's Farthest to fight its way home. It is perhaps difficult
to see things in their true light, every effort at so doing being
naturally affected by knowledge of succeeding events. But the
conclusion can hardly be avoided that the fate of the _Grande Armée_
was already sealed, and that the shadow of impending disaster lay
darkly upon its disorderly columns.

The numbers of the Napoleonic host on leaving Moscow can only be
approximately computed. The dates of the muster-rolls collected by De
Chambray vary so much that they can only be taken as a general guide.
There are also errors in the published tables, the 8th Corps having
4916 infantry and artillery instead of 1916. De Chambray also, with
all his merits, has the failing, natural enough indeed, and entirely
excusable, of rather under-rating French numbers. An example of this
may be seen in his estimate of Napoleon's strength at Borodino.

On the whole, working upon the muster-rolls collected by De Chambray,
the marching-out strength of Napoleon's army from Moscow would appear
to have been approximately as follows:--

             Corps.              | Infantry,  | Mounted  | Total.  | Guns.
                                 | Artillery, | Cavalry. |         |
                                 | Dismounted |          |         |
                                 | Cavalry.   |          |         |
 Grand Quarter-General           |   3,000    |  1,000   |   4,000 |  ?
 Imperial Guard                  |  19,000    |  4,000   |  23,000 |
 1st Army Corps                  |  30,000    |  1,000   |  31,000 |
 3rd  "     "                    |  10,500    |  1,000   |  11,500 |
 4th  "     "                    |  26,000    |  1,500   |  27,500 |
 5th  "     "                    |   5,000    |  1,000   |   6,000 |
 8th  "     "                    |   5,000    |    750   |   5,750 |
 Cavalry Reserve                 |   1,000    |  5,000   |   6,000 |
 Brigade of Dismounted Horsemen  |   4,000    |          |   4,000 |
 Artillery Parks, Engineers,   } |            |          |         |
 Pontonniers, Gendarmerie, etc.} |   5,000    |    500   |   5,500 |
                                 | 108,500    | 15,750   | 124,250 | 600

The precise number of guns is not very certain, and to compute it
is a somewhat unnecessary task. But, including the spare pieces in
the reserve parks, and allowing for losses and reinforcements, the
total must have been in the neighbourhood of 600. There were over
2000 artillery vehicles, for the most part heavily laden and very
inadequately horsed.

The trains, already enormous, were now still further augmented by
quantities of carts and carriages of every kind taken in Moscow, and
requisitioned to transport food, wounded, refugees, and plunder. The
bulk of the troops had made additions to their worn uniforms in the
shape of garments of all kinds, often female ones, ransacked from
the shops and warehouses. The effect must at the time have appeared
fantastic and comical; but the humour of the sight was soon to be
quenched in horror.

It has been seen that on the 14th orders had been issued which
foreshadowed the evacuation of Moscow; and on the 16th Napoleon wrote
to Maret at Vilna, setting forth his intentions. He would march
against and defeat Kutuzov, take Kaluga, and then act according to
circumstances. He would probably eventually go into winter quarters
between Minsk and Smolensk, as Moscow did not afford a satisfactory
military position. The Emperor made a final attempt to induce Kutuzov
to open negotiations, but, of course, without result. He was in one of
his worst moods, raging at his want of success, and the savage side of
his nature displayed itself in all its nakedness in the disgraceful
orders to blow up the Kremlin and its sacred and historic buildings.

From Moscow two roads led to Kaluga. The western one went by the
towns of Fominskoië, Borovsk and Maloyaroslavetz, that to the east
by Voronovo and Tarutino. The eastern road is the more direct of
the two, and is roughly the chord of the shallow arc of a circle
described by the other. From Borovsk a cross-road leads by Vereia to
Gzhatsk. From Maloyaroslavetz a fairly good highway goes eastward and
south-eastward by Medyn to Yukhnov, and thence by Ielnia to Smolensk.
The two Moscow-Kaluga roads are farthest apart between Tarutino and
Borovsk, the latter place being some 20 miles distant from the former
and slightly to the north-east of it. Maloyaroslavetz is about 11 miles
south of Borovsk, and some 22 by road from Tarutino. It is thus evident
that it was a point of great strategic importance.

The positions of the opposing armies were as follows: On the French
side Murat's force was near Voronovo, some 18 miles north of Tarutino.
At Fominskoië, 15 or 16 miles west of Voronovo, was Broussier's
division of the 4th Corps, which had been sent thither a few days
earlier. Junot, with the 8th Corps, was about Mozhaïsk. The rest of the
_Grande Armée_ was in and around Moscow.

Marshal Kutuzov was encamped with his _Corps de Bataille_ about
Tarutino, while Miloradovich with the advance-guard was pushed forward
to observe Murat. Platov's Flying Corps and other light detachments
were in the vicinity of Tarutino; Dorokhov was at Vereia; and
Winzingerode's cavalry observed Moscow, as before, on the north and

Marshal Mortier was left by Napoleon to complete the evacuation of
Moscow and to execute the abominable order to destroy the Kremlin. He
had under his command Laborde's division of the Young Guard, Charrier's
brigade of dismounted troopers, a brigade of light cavalry, and some
artillery and sappers--about 9000 men in all. He was to hold the
Kremlin for a few days and to give out that Napoleon would soon return,
while clearing the ruins of such wounded, non-combatants and refugees.

The rest of the Guard, the 1st, 3rd and 4th Corps, began to evacuate
Moscow in the night of October 18-19. There was great confusion, owing
to the crowding of the trains into the Moscow-Kaluga road, and the
march was slow. Recklessness and the breakdown of discipline were
everywhere apparent. When the 3rd Corps reached its rendezvous at
the monastery of Semenovski it was found to be in flames, and it is
astounding to read that quantities of provisions were burned in it. It
is useless to seek for excuse for the commission of such an act; it was
simple insanity.

The army advanced along the eastern road directly upon Tarutino. Eugène
opened the march, and behind him came the 1st and 3rd Corps and the
Guard. The advance by the western road appeared to threaten a frontal
attack on the position of Tarutino, but on reaching the Pakhra, the
Emperor diverted the columns on to the western route. Murat's force
was broken up. The King himself with the relics of the 1st, 2nd and
3rd Cavalry Corps was directed upon Fominskoië; Poniatowski's corps on
Vereia, to recover that place from Dorokhov. Ney was to take Murat's
place at Voronovo, the Vistula Legion, the remains of the 4th Cavalry
Corps and the cavalry of the 1st Corps being also placed at his
disposal. He had in all about 16,000 men and over 100 guns--sufficient
under his resolute leadership to hold Miloradovich in check. There was
also the possibility that his presence at Voronovo would induce Kutuzov
to believe that the whole French army was advancing by the eastern
road; and in any case it would divert attention from the flank movement
by the western one.

The diversion of the advance to the western road was a well-conceived
manoeuvre, and had it been carried out with greater rapidity it might
have achieved brilliant results. The distance to Maloyaroslavetz by
the French line of march is about 72 miles, which the leading troops
covered by the evening of the 23rd. As the roads were poor and the
cross-tracks unspeakable, and there was besides some rain to make them
worse, the army cannot be said to have done badly. But its march,
encumbered as it was by interminable trains of artillery and baggage,
was not speedy enough for the emergency. The attention of the Russian
staff, indeed, appears to have been riveted upon the eastern road,
for it was not until the 22nd that Kutuzov learned that there were
French troops at Fominskoië. Considering that it was probably merely a
powerful screen for foraging operations, Kutuzov directed Dokhturov,
with the 6th Corps and the light cavalry of the Imperial Guard, to
attack and drive it back. Miloradovich was ordered to demonstrate
against the force in his front so as to prevent it detaching succours
to the division at Fominskoië. This was on the evening of the 22nd.
Eugène's corps, with Delzons' division leading, was between Fominskoië
and Borovsk; Davout and the Guard were about Fominskoië. At midnight on
the 23rd Ney started from Voronovo for Borovsk in pouring rain which
simply obliterated the tracks and seriously impeded the march. He
was also harassed by detachments of Cossacks. Poniatowski arrived at
Vereia early on the 23rd and, after some fighting, drove out Dorokhov,
who retired by cross-roads towards Maloyaroslavetz. Late on the same
day Delzons occupied Maloyaroslavetz with his advanced guard of two

Dokhturov, accompanied by Yermólov and by Sir Robert Wilson, left
Tarutino early on the 23rd. The 6th Corps, owing to its terrible losses
at Borodino, was only 10 regiments strong, even with the addition of
one or two from corps which had suffered less. One of them, moreover,
was detached to Ozharovski's column. Dokhturov had, therefore, only
18 battalions, 7 batteries and the 3 regiments of the light cavalry
of the Guard--about 12,000 men in all, with 84 guns. By the afternoon
he had arrived at a point 5 or 6 miles from the western road, between
Fominskoië and Borovsk, and there received information that 12,000
French troops were in his front. He consulted with his subordinates
and with Wilson, and it was decided, rightly, to halt and await
events, since if this body were isolated it would probably remain on
the defensive. If, on the other hand, it continued to advance it was
probably the head of a formidable force--perhaps the entire French
army. Very soon intelligence came from Seslavin that Moscow was
evacuated and the French army marching across from the eastern road to
Fominskoië; and immediately afterwards a report from Dorokhov announced
that a Cossack post at Borovsk had been expelled by Delzons. Dokhturov
promptly took his decision. He could no longer hope to intercept the
French at Borovsk, so must make a dash for Maloyaroslavetz, and there
bar the road. He sent off word to Tarutino of his intelligence and
intentions, and started his force for the vital point, arriving there
in the night of the 23rd-24th.

Napoleon himself reached Borovsk on the 23rd. Thence he despatched
orders to Baraguay d'Hilliers to move out from Smolensk towards Ielnia.
He evidently expected to carry out his manoeuvre without hindrance. In
a letter to Eugène, dated at 7.30 p.m., he appears to have discovered
the presence of Dokhturov, but to have anticipated an attack on the
flank of his columns rather than an attempt to bar his way. As he
dictated this despatch all the Russian commanders in touch with him
had full information of his manoeuvre, Kutuzov had been warned, and
Dokhturov was marching hard for Maloyaroslavetz!

At 1 a.m. Mortier in Moscow ordered the firing of the mines which had
been laid under the buildings in the Kremlin and elsewhere. They were
charged with 183,000 pounds of powder, and great damage was wrought,
but by no means the complete destruction intended by Napoleon. Mortier,
who hated the ignominious task which he had been set by his master,
is said, doubtless with truth, to have been by no means sorry at the
comparatively small results of the Emperor's vandalism.

Winzingerode, who was already in the suburbs with his troops, pressed
forward rather inconsiderately to reoccupy the Kremlin, riding himself
in advance without an escort, attended only by a single aide-de-camp.
The result was that he was taken prisoner, though he made a
dishonourable, if not entirely inexcusable, attempt to escape by waving
his handkerchief and pretending to have come on a parley. Mortier quite
rightly declined to listen, and detained him. The evacuation was then
completed. The Marshal made the most strenuous efforts to save all the
invalids and to alleviate their sufferings as far as possible, but so
great was the deficiency of transport that many hundreds had to be left
behind. Eighteen guns, doubtless rendered unserviceable, were also
abandoned. The gigantic convoy, guarded by Mortier's small force,
moved not by the main road to Smolensk, but by cross roads on Vereia.

At Tarutino Kutuzov during the 23rd received the intelligence sent
by Miloradovich and Dokhturov. The hour is a little doubtful, but he
cannot have received Dokhturov's report until late in the day, and
it was not possible to march at once owing to the absence of a large
part of the artillery horses, which, as before the action of Vinkovo,
had been led far away to obtain forage. The blame freely lavished
upon Kutuzov for dilatoriness seems to be without foundation; there
was no unnecessary delay. To set forth to encounter Napoleon without
the artillery would have been unwise to the verge of insanity. As a
fact, supposing the final information to have reached the camp about
4 p.m., six or seven hours was not too long in which to call in the
parties and make preparations for the march. Platov was sent off at
once with 15 regiments of Cossacks to observe and harass the march of
Napoleon's column, and at 11 p.m. the rest of the army started for
Maloyaroslavetz. The distance, allowing for deviations, was about 25
miles, mostly over an execrable byway rendered almost impassable by
the pouring rain. Nevertheless, the Russians pushed doggedly forward,
and by 11 a.m. on the 24th the head of the column was within reach of
Maloyaroslavetz. Seeing that Ney, who on this same night was moving
across from the eastern road, did not reach Borovsk until the evening
of the 26th, having occupied three days in covering about 36 miles, the
greatest credit is due to the Russian army.

Dokhturov with his force reached Maloyaroslavetz in the night of the
23rd-24th. Either now or soon after daylight on the 24th he was joined
by Dorokhov from Vereia. His troops must have been nearly dead beat,
but he managed to spread them round the town so as to hold the outlets
of all the roads which led out of it. He, of course, did not know that
there were only two battalions holding the town; but Buturlin's blame
of him for not carrying it is unreasonable. His men had been marching
for nearly an entire day and night, and it was indispensably necessary
to allow them some rest.

Maloyaroslavetz, an ordinary Russian country town built almost entirely
of wood, lay on the southern bank of the small river Luzha, at the
point where it was crossed by a bridge carrying the Moscow-Kaluga road.
The river, like most streams in the region, flows in a deeply sunk
channel. Below the bridge there were, according to Wilson, fords, but
the Russians did not need them, and the French knew nothing of them.
In any case, neither side attempted to use them. The country was very
broken and also wooded, and the banks of the river, especially the
southern one, were very steep. There were a few isolated buildings near
the stream, while the town proper lay some hundreds of yards farther
on, spreading over the top of the rise on to a plateau with a slight
descent to the southward. The only good artillery position on the
Russian side was eastward of the town, but though from it the opposite
bank of the Luzha, down which the enemy must come, could be commanded,
the ground was so broken and wooded that the bridge could nowhere be
seen, and it was never apparently seriously injured.

Early on the 24th some fugitive inhabitants made their way to
Dokhturov, and informed him that there were as yet only two battalions
of French troops in the town. Accordingly soon after daylight, his men
having by this obtained a little rest, he sent forward the 6th and 33rd
Chasseur Regiments to carry the town. They expelled the garrison from
nearly the whole of the place, but the buildings near the bridge formed
a sort of _tête du pont_, which the French held desperately. Dokhturov
supported the attack by two more Chasseur regiments, but the resistance
was stubborn, and the Russians could not advance against the deadly
fire kept up upon them. Delzons could at first only reinforce the
gallant garrison by fragments and driblets, for when his main body
endeavoured to defile down the northern bank Dokhturov rapidly brought
a line of batteries into action east of the town and effectually
checked them. About an hour later some batteries of the 4th Corps,
which were toiling along the miry road, were ranged by the Viceroy
opposite the Russian artillery, and thus covered Delzons' division
crossed the bridge and recaptured the town.

Dokhturov thereupon restored the fight with three line regiments,
which rallied the Chasseurs and stormed through the streets of
Maloyaroslavetz, driving the 13th Division back towards the bridge.
Baron Delzons was killed in the midst of the struggle, and as his
brother and aide-de-camp endeavoured to carry his body to the rear
he also was struck down. Baron Guilleminot, Eugène's chief-of-staff,
took the command, rallied the division and, supported by part of
Broussier's, which was beginning to arrive, again stormed the now
burning town, only to be forced out again as Dokhturov sent in fresh
reinforcements. Once more the Russian charge was checked at the bridge;
and Broussier and Guilleminot, with their united divisions, again drove
the 6th Corps through the blazing town, but could not debouch from it
in the face of the Russian artillery fire.

The main armies were approaching the scene of action. Davout's corps
was advancing from Borovsk to the support of Eugène; the main Russian
army was nearing the field from Tarutino. Raievski's corps marched
at the head of the long column, and behind him came in succession
the 8th, 3rd, 5th, 2nd and 4th Corps, and Korff's, Golitizin's and
Vassilchikov's cavalry. The aged commander-in-chief travelled during
the night in his carriage. When about 3 or 4 miles from Maloyaroslavetz
he halted and ordered Colonel Löwenstern to see Dokhturov to report.
The whole of the 6th Corps was now engaged and forced on the
defensive by Broussier and Guilleminot; and of this Löwenstern informed
the commander-in-chief. Kutuzov sent Raievski forward at once to the
assistance of Dokhturov, ordered the other corps to march upon the held
with all speed, and himself mounted his horse and hurried to the front
to range his oncoming troops in line of battle.


Raievski's leading division, personally led by the corps commander
and by Konovnitzin, reached the front about 12.30 p.m., gathered
up Dokhturov's weary divisions, and the united force stormed
Maloyaroslavetz for the sixth time, driving Broussier and Guilleminot
into the bridge-head for shelter, until Pino's Italians sustained and
rallied them. The three divisions beat back the oncoming Russians
and once more gained possession of the awful heap of blood-stained
ruins that now represented the town. The conflict was horrible
beyond description; the opposing soldiery fought to the death amid
conflagration and ruin; the wounded were suffocated, trodden underfoot,
burned alive in the blazing houses, or hideously mangled by the
opposing guns and artillery waggons as they forged their way backward
and forward through the chaos.

To repel the three French and Italian divisions Dokhturov was now
obliged to send in Raievski's second division. Once more the Russian
infantry poured into the ruins of Maloyaroslavetz, driving their
opponents before them and thrusting them down the slope towards the
bridge. But the head of Davout's corps was at length arriving, and
Eugène accordingly sent in his last reserve, the Royal Guard of Italy.
Its six battalions finally turned the scale against the Russian 6th
and 7th Corps, which, still fighting furiously, were driven back upon
and through the ruins of the town. Davout's corps artillery forced
the batteries on the east to retire; the entire artillery of the 4th
Corps was pushed to the front over the dead and dying to support the
infantry, while Compans' and Gérard's divisions crossed a temporary
bridge and took up positions, the former on Eugène's left, the latter
to his right.

The French were masters of the blood-stained ruins of Maloyaroslavetz,
and that was all. While the battle was raging Kutuzov had stationed his
whole army just south of the town and commenced to entrench himself. He
relieved the 6th Corps by the 8th and the 3rd Division, and directed
Borozdin and Raievski once more to assault the dreadful ruins of
Maloyaroslavetz. Borozdin's leading troops entered it, but were driven
out again, and, realising that the French hold was now too firm to be
shaken, the Russians finally withdrew; but their immense artillery
commanded every exit, and their skirmishers were everywhere close up to
those of their opponents. The 7th and 8th Corps and the 3rd Division
were in front line; the 2nd, 4th, 5th and 6th with the rest of the 3rd
in second and third, while the powerful cavalry covered both flanks as
far as the Luzha.

So far as a single event can be fixed upon as the decisive point
of Napoleon's career that event is undoubtedly the battle of
Maloyaroslavetz. Dokhturov's swift decision, splendidly seconded
by the desperate fighting of the 6th and 7th Corps, had definitely
ended all hope of carrying out the retreat with success. It may be
doubted whether, even by marching by way of Kaluga, the army would
have succeeded in retaining much discipline and cohesion; but, at
any rate, it would have been the only chance, and now the attempt
had failed. Napoleon knew it. He established his head-quarters in a
peasant's hut at Gorodnia, about 5 miles north of Maloyaroslavetz, and
to him in the evening he called Murat, Berthier and Bessières. He was
seated at a table on which was spread a map of the country, and began
to detail the situation to the generals. Suddenly the full extent of
his imminent ruin seemed to burst upon him, and, dropping his head
upon his hands and his elbows upon the table, he remained for more
than an hour staring at the map, the comrades of his sixteen years of
victory waiting for him to speak, silent and mournful. Rising at last
he dismissed them without further comment, apparently resolved on a
final desperate throw of the dice. He sent word to Davout to relieve
Eugène's weary troops at the front, and that he would himself bring up
the Guard in support. Ney, who had now reached Fominskoië, was ordered
to bring Ledru's and Razout's divisions to a point between Borovsk
and Maloyaroslavetz, leaving Claparède and Scheler to guard the vast
assemblage of trains at the former place.

Meanwhile Kutuzov had also been deliberating. He had announced his
intention of standing to fight on the ground which he held; but as
the hours wore away his resolution failed him. He is not perhaps to
be blamed; it was no light thing to meet Napoleon--never so dangerous
as when he appeared completely baffled. He knew that the quality of
his army, diluted with raw militia-men and recruits of a few weeks'
training, left much to be desired; another battle like that of Borodino
would completely cripple it. At any rate, he decided not to accept
battle where he stood, but to fall back to another position about 3
miles in rear. This appears to have been strong enough; but it left
uncovered the road from Maloyaroslavetz to Medyn, which Napoleon might
have used for his retreat. The anger in the Russian army was great.
Wilson was furious, and practically accuses Kutuzov of treachery. This
is, of course, absurd. The Russian commander-in-chief and the English
commissioner were on very bad terms, the latter being apparently rather
tactless and too urgent in his efforts to induce the former to take
the offensive. There is no question that Kutuzov was too old for his
post; but, after all, he was the responsible chief of the Russian
armies, and he knew, what Wilson did not, the internal condition of his
own. Wild enthusiasm, assisted only by pikes, hardly constitutes
a very firm stay against veteran and well-armed warriors led by a
great military genius. Nevertheless, it is certain that Wilson and the
bellicose Russian corps commanders were correct. The position behind
Maloyaroslavetz was a better one than that which had been held with
such desperate obstinacy at Borodino, and to defend it Kutuzov, after
deducting the losses on the previous day, had 100,000 regulars and
15,000 irregulars with over 600 guns. Against these Napoleon could
bring only the Guard (less Claparède's division), the 1st and 4th
Corps, the bulk of the 3rd and the remains of the reserve cavalry.
Mortier was on the march from Moscow to Vereia, Junot near Mozhaïsk,
Poniatowski moving westward from Vereia. Allowing for these detachments
Napoleon could place in line of battle by the 27th little more than
80,000 men, including the Head-quarters Guard. He would have 12,000
cavalry, mostly in very bad condition, and about 450 badly horsed
guns as against at least 620 excellently appointed Russian pieces.
This, however, Kutuzov did not accurately know, while he did know that
Napoleon was in his front with the bulk of his army. He pointed out
that any reverse would be fatal, since behind the present position was
a very difficult defile. To Wilson's heated expostulations he replied
angrily that he did not intend to win victories of which only England
would reap the benefit! This outbreak may be charitably attributed to
ill-temper at Wilson's worrying of him. The withdrawal was carried out.
There was considerable disorder during the passage of the artillery
through the defile, but the movement was successfully accomplished,
well protected by Miloradovich's skilful handling of the rear-guard.



Napoleon in the peasant's hut at Gorodnia remained for over an hour
gazing at his map before making the fatal decision to retreat by the
devastated route to Smolensk]

Davout in the morning was able to debouch unopposed from
Maloyaroslavetz, but his advance was soon checked by the sight of the
Russian army, now established in its new position. Meanwhile, Napoleon
had started from Gorodnia. He was attended by his usual escort of
three or four squadrons. The cavalry of the Guard was some distance
behind when, on the road to Maloyaroslavetz, a mass of Cossacks poured
out of the woods on the left and raced at the escort. They were riding
in good order, says Rapp, so that it was at first thought that they
were regulars. They were, in fact, Platov's own corps, the Ataman
having crossed the Luzha early that morning to raid Napoleon's line of
communications. He was now aiming for a park of 40 guns of the Guard
near Gorodnia. Rapp seized Napoleon's bridle and turned his horse, and
the escort formed in haste, Rapp thrusting himself before the Emperor
to shield him from the lances of the wild moss-troopers. His chivalrous
devotion had wellnigh cost him dear, for his horse was killed, but the
staff and escort rescued him, and, the cavalry of the Guard coming up,
the Cossacks dispersed. They seized the artillery park, however, but
the horses being at a distance watering, only 11 guns could be carried
off. The bold attempt spread alarm through the army, which was almost
all called under arms to resist an expected attack.

Napoleon, probably greatly exasperated, returned to Gorodnia until
the way should be safe. At ten o'clock he again started, examined the
battle-field and then returned to Gorodnia, having practically wasted
a whole day--this when every hour was precious. This may have been
because he was still undecided as to what he should do. At his quarters
he held a final and stormy council. Murat, bold to the last, advocated
advance, and offered to clear a way if the Guard cavalry were added to
the remnant of his horsemen. Bessières, however, opposed him, observing
that the transport was already failing and that the advance could not
be rapid enough to be effective. Davout advised that the Medyn-Smolensk
road should be adopted as the main line of retreat, but this was
sufficient to provoke the opposition of Murat, who insisted that it was
not safe from Russian flank attacks. The end was that Napoleon decided
to fall back by the main road to Smolensk, and ordered the whole army
to move on to it by way of Mozhaïsk. The road by Medyn, Yukhnov and
Ielnia is about 40 miles shorter than the route adopted; the country
which it traversed was not yet entirely devastated, and it is strange
that Napoleon did not take it, braving the chance of a flank attack by
the cautious, and by no means confident, Russian commander-in-chief. It
is possible that, whichever route the army might take, it would have
been prevented from foraging by the Cossacks. Perhaps also Napoleon
hoped to give Kutuzov the impression that he was retreating upon
Vitebsk--as, in fact, he at first did.

Kutuzov was, indeed, so little confident that on the 26th he retreated
towards Kaluga. His decision has been violently criticised, and not
without much show of reason. The only reply is that what we know very
well to-day was not so plain to Kutuzov in 1812. He did not believe
that his army was a match for Napoleon's, and that the correct policy
was to "play hide and seek" with the invaders, as Clausewitz expresses
it, and so wear them out. Having come to this conclusion, Kutuzov
proceeded to carry out his design regardless of opposition. He was
perhaps wrong, but it cannot be pronounced on the evidence which lay
before him at the time that he was. Had Napoleon followed, his army
would but have been weakened; had he turned westward the Russians would
still have been on his flank. Wherever he went his line of march would
be infested by Cossacks. Kutuzov was undoubtedly too cautious; he might
have risked more, but he might equally have exposed himself to the
counter-strokes of his mighty antagonist, now driven to desperation,
and have lost everything. His operations were conducted on the basal
idea that Napoleon was not to be beaten by open force, but by steady
evasion and constant harassing. From this point of view his retirement
was natural. His really serious blunder was committed two days later,
and was the direct outcome of Napoleon's retreat by Mozhaïsk.

On the 26th, while Kutuzov's exasperated generals were ordering the
retrograde march on Kaluga, Napoleon was commencing the fatal movement
which was the beginning of his downfall. The 8th Corps about Mozhaïsk
naturally formed the advance-guard; Ney was directed on Mozhaïsk from
Borovsk, while the Guard moved back to that place. Mortier was to reach
Vereia by the evening, and next day would be rejoined by Roguet's and
Claparède's divisions. Eugène was to follow in the track of the Guard,
while Davout with the 1st Corps and the relics of the 1st and 3rd
Cavalry Corps covered the rear. Poniatowski was to move by cross-roads
to Gzhatsk to cover the left flank. Finally, Evers, who had moved some
way southward towards Yukhnov, was to return to Viasma, and there await
the army.

While the French army lay about Maloyaroslavetz it had received
repeated proofs of the activity and audacity of the Russian light
troops. All the columns had in their turn been alarmed and harassed.
On the 25th a body of Cossacks executed a _hourra_ (alarm) upon
Borovsk. On the same day Colonel Ilovaïski IX with three regiments of
them surprised the advance-guard of the 5th Corps, consisting of a
regiment of infantry and two of cavalry under General Tyskiewicz near
Kreminskoië, between Vereia and Medyn. Tyskiewicz was captured, and of
his force of about 1300 men, 500 were killed, wounded and captured.
Ilovaïski also took 5 guns.

In the actual battle of Maloyaroslavetz the forces engaged were nearly
equal in number. On the French side there were successively sent into
line the 4th Corps and the 3rd and 5th Divisions of the 1st--about
35,000 men in all. The Russians successively engaged about the same
numbers--Dokhturov's force, Dorokhov's detachment, the 7th Corps,
the 3rd and 27th Divisions, and some regiments of Cossacks. The
Russians admitted a loss of 4412 killed and wounded and 2753 missing.
Very many of the latter, it is to be feared, perished in the burning
town, and the actual total cannot be reckoned at less than 6000,
quite five-sixths of which fell upon the 20,000 infantry of the 6th
and 7th Corps. A heavy loss was that of General Dorokhov, who, being
somewhat deaf, miscalculated the distance of musketry fire and was
mortally wounded in consequence. Martinien's lists show something over
300 officers killed and wounded on the French side, and the total of
casualties, therefore, would also be about 6000--the vast majority
falling upon the 4th Corps. Of its four infantry division commanders,
Delzons was killed, and Broussier and Pino were wounded. Two generals
of brigade were killed and three wounded. The losses in the various
Cossack alarms were probably slight on both sides. The Russians, as
aforesaid, captured 11 guns.



The result of the operations on the Düna and in Volhynia had been that
by the end of August, Wittgenstein was standing on the defensive at
Sivokhino faced by a considerably superior force under St. Cyr, while
in Volhynia Tormazov had been driven to cover behind the Styr. He also
was opposed by forces considerably larger than his own, but Admiral
Chichagov was now advancing fast from Moldavia, and within a few weeks
the scale would be turned heavily against the invaders. On August 28th
the Tzar and the Crown Prince of Sweden met at Abo. The result was the
treaty of Abo, which freed Count Steingell's Russian army of Finland
for service against Napoleon. Reinforcements to the number of about
15,000 men, of whom 10,000 were St. Petersburg militia, were ordered to
join Wittgenstein.

To co-ordinate the movements of the widely scattered forces which
from Finland to Moldavia were converging upon the theatre of war an
elaborate plan of operations was worked out by Alexander and his
council. It was far too detailed, required an impossible exactness of
co-operation from the commanders, and assumed as complete the processes
of reinforcement which had often hardly commenced. In its main lines it
was as follows:--



Commander of the 6th (Bavarian) Army Corps and victor of first battle
of Polotsk, Aug. 18th, 1812

From the picture by H. Vernet at Versailles]

Chichagov was to concentrate at Ostrog, in Volhynia, and reach Pinsk by
September 20th. He was to march upon and capture Minsk and then occupy
the line of the Berezina in conjunction with Wittgenstein, while
Tormazov held in check or drove back Schwarzenberg.

Wittgenstein, reinforced by 19,000 militia and 9000 regulars, was to
cross the Düna, supported by Steingell, attack St. Cyr in the rear and,
having beaten him, was to push on to co-operate with Chichagov.

Steingell, with 14,000 men of the army of Finland, was to go to Riga.
The Riga garrison, 20,000 strong (it was actually much less), was to
attack and contain Macdonald, while under cover of this demonstration
Steingell advanced on Polotsk to co-operate with Wittgenstein. Then,
while the latter moved on to effect a junction with Chichagov,
Steingell was to pursue St. Cyr towards Vilna.

General Ertel's force at Mozyr was to move northward and join Chichagov
in the neighbourhood of Minsk.

The main object of the operations is clearly to bar Napoleon's homeward
march from Moscow by a competent force. But the orders were too minute
in some respects and vague in others. They spoke of such events as
the defeat of Schwarzenberg by Tormazov as if they were certain to
materialise, were clogged with superfluous regulations of detail, and
took little account of the practical difficulties of organising and
moving troops in a country like Russia. The strategy in broad outline
was executed; no more could have been expected.

The efforts and intrigues of Andréossy, Napoleon's Ambassador at
Constantinople, failed to induce the Turks to repudiate the Treaty of
Peace concluded at Bukharest; and thus Admiral Chichagov was, after
long delays, enabled to start his army for the north. He had under his
personal command five divisions of all arms commanded respectively
by General Count Langeron, Lieutenant-Generals Voïnov, Essen III and
Sabaniev, and Major-General Bulatov. In all there were 50 battalions,
56 squadrons, 17 batteries and 11 regiments of Cossacks. The troops
generally were of excellent quality and largely veterans, but the
units were weak. The total of regulars was perhaps 34,000, with 204
guns; there were also between 3000 and 4000 Cossacks. A division of
about 6000 men and 12 guns under Major-General Lüders, which had been
supporting the famous Serb chief, Black George, was following from the

The original idea had been that the Army of the Danube should invade
the French possessions in Illyria; but this was soon abandoned.
Chichagov was much disappointed, but to penetrate through wild and
rugged Balkania would have certainly meant the destruction of his army.

Chichagov had been placed in charge of the Russian army of the Danube
and of the peace negotiations with Turkey by the express command of
Alexander, who was angry at the slowness of his predecessor Kutuzov.
The Admiral was also a strong advocate of the policy of arming the
Serbs against Napoleon and invading Illyria. The Tzar considered him
an able and energetic man, and he certainly should have known, for
Chichagov had been for some time Minister of Marine. Wilson, who
visited him at Bukharest, was much impressed with his ability, and
regretted that he had not been placed earlier in command.

Wilson remarked that the Admiral's ability might not necessarily be
equal to independent command, but, as a fact, Chichagov did quite as
well as any of the other Russian generals. His lack of experience made
him occasionally too slow; but his comments upon the plans submitted to
him show that he really possessed very sound military judgment. Above
all, he was of a remarkably independent temper, and did not shrink from
expressing his opinions. He criticised the elaborate Imperial plan of
operations with vigour and acumen, telling the Tzar bluntly that he
should act as if the orders were more definite than they actually were,
and would answer for his deviations from them!

Chichagov's position in his own army was not too pleasant. The
military officers were sulky at being commanded by a seaman; his
second-in-command, the Frenchman Langeron, was bitterly hostile,
and in his memoirs loses no opportunity of attacking him. Even
Langeron, however, admits his remarkable probity and scorn of personal
profit--very rare virtues in a Russian of that period--and once or
twice, despite himself, has to remark upon his chief's energy.

Chichagov left Bukharest on August 3rd, and on the 9th concentrated
his army at Fokshani. The weather was very wet, and the result was
the flooding of the rivers Putna and Sereth beyond Fokshani, which
destroyed the existing bridges and retarded their re-establishment, so
that it was not until the 17th that the Army of the Danube was able to
resume its march. The battle of Gorodeczna had been fought; Tormazov
was in full retreat for the Styr, and soon his anxious messages began
to reach the Admiral, who, in reply, hastened up to the rescue at a
pace, considering the difficulties, perhaps never equalled in war. The
weather was hot; the roads were almost non-existent; the army, after
the bad fashion of Russian forces, was encumbered with immense trains;
nevertheless the speed of its march was remarkable. From the Sereth to
Jassy, from Jassy to Choczim and Kamenetz-Podolski, thence for the Styr
by Staroï-Konstantinov and Zaslavl, it took its way, marching rapidly
but methodically, halting for one day in every six in order to rest and
close up its straggling columns. Every effort was made to hasten the
march, especially after passing the Dniester; weakened infantrymen were
carried in waggons, while the cavalry and artillery pressed forward
with all speed. On September 14th, as Miloradovich was withdrawing his
rear-guard from Moscow, Chichagov in person entered Ostrog; and on the
same day Voïnov's division reached Krymniki-on-Styr to the support of
Tormazov. Langeron was at Dubno, one march behind Voïnov, Essen and
Sabaniev at Ostrog, while Bulatov had not yet passed Zaslavl. From
Fokshani to the Styr is a distance of over 450 miles, which had been
traversed by the leading divisions in 29 days, including 5 of rest--a
sustained average of over 15 miles a day and an actual marching average
of 19! The army reached the Styr in excellent order, ready to take the
offensive immediately.

At Dubno Chichagov was joined by two infantry regiments from the
Crimea. The united Russian armies now amounted to about 67,000 men,
including 18,000 cavalry and Cossacks, with over 300 pieces of

Schwarzenberg had about 42,000 troops under his command, but some
thousands of them were raw Polish levies, and he possessed only 102
guns wherewith to oppose the immense park of his opponents. The marshy
and malarious country was causing much sickness among his troops. Very
likely also he was withheld by orders from Vienna, and the disaffection
among his subordinates must have counted for much. But, in fact, he
had not troops sufficient to force the passage of the Styr against an
army not very inferior to his own in numbers, and much stronger in
artillery. On September 15th, just as Chichagov was closing up to the
front, he wrote to Berthier and explained his difficulties. On the 17th
he made a demonstration along the river and became convinced that the
Army of the Danube had now joined Tormazov.

Chichagov, having relieved Tormazov from fear of being overwhelmed,
could now allow his troops to move more leisurely. For some days,
therefore, his divisions were merely quietly ranged along the Styr; and
the river was bridged. Schwarzenberg, realising that he was about to be
attacked, drew back his detachments and prepared to retreat as soon as
the Russians moved forward. Early on the 20th Lambert crossed the Styr
and surprised 14 squadrons of German and Polish cavalry, capturing 300
prisoners. On the 22nd the general advance of the Russians began.

It is rather characteristic of the Imperial orders that they provided
for no subordination of one general to another in the combined
operations which they contemplated. In the present instance no
trouble arose, as Chichagov and Tormazov agreed well together; and
when on the 24th orders arrived from Kutuzov for Tormazov to march
to reinforce the main army the latter quietly disregarded it. A few
days later came another order, this time directing Chichagov to go,
and Tormazov to remain to check Schwarzenberg. The Admiral declined
to abandon his comrade, and comments sarcastically upon these
contradictory directions. In any case, neither Chichagov nor Tormazov
could have reached Tarutino in time. At the end of September the
Imperial instructions were brought by the Tzar's aide-de-camp, Colonel
Chernishev. Chichagov observes that their object was clearly to range
a strong force along the line of the Berezina; and, having despatched
his outspoken reply to his master, proceeded to attain the end in his
own way. At the same time Tormazov was called by Kutuzov to succeed
Bagration, leaving Chichagov in supreme command.

On the 22nd the Russian armies crossed the Styr, Schwarzenberg's
outposts falling back before them. Schwarzenberg retired upon Luboml, a
little east of the Bug on the Lublin-Kovel road, where he concentrated
on the 28th. By the evening of the 29th Chichagov and Tormazov had
collected most of their forces in his front; but in the night he
evacuated his position and retreated towards Brest-Litovsk, sending
at the same time Siegenthal's division to Pruzhani. Chichagov pursued
him with the bulk of his forces, only detaching Voïnov to follow
Siegenthal. On October 9th Chichagov reached Brest-Litovsk and called
in his detachments to give battle; but Schwarzenberg wisely decamped in
the night and retreated on Warsaw. He took up a position at Wengrow,
about 42 miles east of Praga, and awaited events, while Siegenthal fell
back to Bielostok. Chichagov, having driven Napoleon's extreme right
wing across the Bug, halted at Brest-Litovsk with his main body in
order to prepare to carry out the instructions brought by Chernishev.

The losses in these operations were not very heavy. There had been a
good deal of skirmishing, but no general action; and it is unlikely
that Schwarzenberg's army lost more than 3000 to 4000 men. The
diminution in the Russian forces must have been even less.

Chichagov now, according to various critics on both sides, committed a
great blunder. He remained halted for 18 days at Brest-Litovsk. But,
as Bogdanovich has justly pointed out, he was about to advance through
a country which, never rich, had been devastated by the passage across
it of several armies. He had to divide his army for its new operations,
leaving a competent force to observe Schwarzenberg, and to collect
supplies sufficient to feed his own corps. Besides, the Army of the
Danube had been marching and fighting for more than two months, and may
well have needed time wherein to repose and refit.

During the halt at Brest-Litovsk General Sacken joined the army from
the south, bringing with him about 4000 depôt troops, who appear to
have been drafted into the weaker units.

While the Admiral himself remained at Brest, preparing for the march
to the Berezina, he sent out detachments to overrun Warsaw and sweep
the country towards Minsk. The detachments sent towards Warsaw were
supported by Essen III's division, which, on October 18th, came in
contact at Biala with Reynier and was driven back, with a loss of
several hundred men and a gun, upon Brest-Litovsk. On the other hand,
General Chaplitz on the 20th destroyed the new Lithuanian regiment of
Napoleon's Guard at Slonim, only about 120 men escaping out of 600.
Chaplitz's detachment was supported by Cherbatov's (formerly Markov's)
division. Eastward of Slonim there were very few invading troops to
cover the long line of communications, threatened on the south by
Russian forces at Bobruisk and Mozyr. The garrison of Bobruisk was
not strong enough to make effective sorties, but the force at Mozyr
had been gradually increased to about 12,000 men and over 30 guns.
To guard against the menace of this force and to observe Bobruisk,
Dombrowski's infantry division and three regiments of cavalry had been
left by Poniatowski in August. Dombrowski's whole force, even after
the junction of some Lithuanian levies, can never have exceeded 9000
men, and was barely sufficient, after garrisoning Mohilev, to observe
Bobruisk, much less to oppose any effectual resistance to Ertel. On
September 11th a column from Mozyr forced an Austrian detachment
to abandon Pinsk, while a second, under Ertel himself, defeated
Dombrowski's Lithuanians on the 15th and threw some reinforcements into
Bobruisk. Then, however, he retired to Mozyr.

From Riga on August 7th Essen again made a sortie and captured Schlock,
which was then retaken by the Prussians. On the 23rd Essen decided
to make a general attack upon the Prussians, who lay observing the
city, extended from Schlock to Thomsdorf on the Düna, a distance of 42
miles. A column under Lewis was to make the real attack upon Eckau,
while a detachment under Major-General Veliaminov demonstrated towards
Mitau, and Rear-Admiral von Müller with a flotilla of sloops attacked
Schlock. The Prussian posts at Dahlenkirchen on the Düna were driven
back, with some loss, by Lewis, but Veliaminov's demonstration had
no results, though von Müller captured Schlock. On the 26th Grawert,
having collected his scattered detachments, drove Lewis back into Riga;
and Schlock and Dahlenkirchen were reoccupied. The losses in these
actions, combined with sickness, considerably weakened the garrison. On
the other hand, they proved that the Prussians were not strong enough
even to blockade the place. Macdonald sent a brigade of Grandjean's
division to reinforce them, and prepared to bring up the rest of it at

After this both sides lay inactive until September 18th, when there was
some more indecisive skirmishing about Schlock. The Prussians were now
commanded by Lieutenant-General Yorck, Grawert being invalided. Between
the 20th and 22nd, Count Steingell's corps from Finland, which had
landed at Revel on the 10th, entered Riga. It had sustained some losses
by shipwreck, and part of the troops were detained by contrary winds,
so that Steingell had with him only a little over 10,000 men and 18
guns. Nevertheless, the force in Riga was now over 20,000 strong, and
an attempt could be made to execute the Tzar's orders.

On the 26th accordingly Steingell with his own troops and a division
under Lewis moved out upon Dahlenkirchen. It was easily occupied, and
on the 27th Steingell advanced upon Eckau, where Yorck had collected
several regiments. His superiority in artillery enabled him to hold
Steingell in check until the arrival of Lewis, when he retired behind
the Aa, abandoning Bausk.

While Steingell was pushing back Yorck, Essen directed a column of 2000
men and 6 guns upon Mitau from Riga, while a flotilla came up the Aa.
Essen's hope was to destroy the siege train, which, however, was not
there. He ordered Steingell to support the advance with 3000 men and 6
guns, under Colonel Ekeln. On the 28th Yorck, being not yet joined by
Hunerbein's brigade (Grandjean's division), ordered General Kleist to
abandon Mitau and come to reinforce him. This Kleist did, and on the
29th the Russians occupied the place without opposition. But meanwhile
Yorck, reinforced by Kleist and Hunerbein, took the offensive against
Steingell's weakened force and began to drive it back. There was some
not very vigorous fighting along the Aa, as the result of which the
Prussians gained a foothold on the farther bank.

Hunerbein, coming from the right, had retaken Bausk, and on the 30th
Yorck made a general advance, driving Steingell back all along the
line. The fighting was not at all severe, Steingell merely gave way
deliberately before the advance of Yorck's now superior columns. On the
other hand, Yorck was probably not anxious to do more than his strict
military duty required. Steingell retired towards Riga with no serious
loss and re-entered the lines on the 2nd of October, Essen at the same
time evacuating Mitau. The losses on neither side were heavy.

The result of the action was that Macdonald decided to come himself to
the support of Yorck. Leaving a Polish regiment in Dünaburg he marched
for Mitau with the rest of Grandjean's division, but when he arrived
the Russians had retreated into Riga. The Marshal increased Hunerbein's
brigade to 8 battalions, rearranged the positions of the troops, and
sent Grandjean with one brigade back to Illuxt, near Dünaburg. To
draw closer to Riga with his feeble forces was evidently impossible,
and week after week wore itself away without any fighting except some
occasional skirmishing at the outposts.

After his victory at Polotsk, on August 18th, St. Cyr had been
unable to follow in pursuit of Wittgenstein owing to his weakness
in cavalry fit for the purpose. Wittgenstein therefore was able to
withdraw unmolested behind the Drissa. On the 22nd Wrede made a strong
reconnaissance towards Sivokhino, but the Bavarians were repulsed by a
detachment under Colonel Vlastov with a loss of about 300 killed and
wounded and 150 prisoners.

Both sides now settled down into cantonments. Both had suffered very
severely and neither was in a state to resume hostilities. Wittgenstein
entrenched his position at Sivokhino, and his cavalry were able to
circumscribe the French foraging operations on the right bank of
the Düna. Wittgenstein also fortified his advanced base of Sebezh.
Meanwhile, St. Cyr threw up entrenchments round Polotsk. The troops
were distributed around the town, and, being largely in quarters or
in barracks and tolerably well supplied, were soon in good condition.
The effectives were increased by drafts and convalescents, but it is
doubtful whether there was any great rise in the numbers owing to the
diminution occasioned by constant petty skirmishing. The Bavarians were
apparently unable to recover from the blighting effects of the sickness
planted in their midst by their terrible hardships in July, and, though
they were at rest and better supplied than they had hitherto been,
their numbers continued to diminish. Maret and Hogendorp did their
best to forward supplies from Vilna, but bread was often scarce and
already, on October 7th, St. Cyr was writing to express his anxiety
at the difficulty of procuring forage. The numerical strength of St.
Cyr's force by the middle of October appears to have been about 30,000
men--2nd Corps 21,000; Doumerc about 2200; 6th Corps perhaps 7000 or

Meanwhile, Marshal Victor, having crossed the Niemen on September 4th,
reached Smolensk on the 27th. On October 6th Napoleon gave him his
instructions. Besides his corps and the Saxon and Westphalian brigades
of Löw and Coutard he was given control of Dombrowski's division. He
was informed that he was to act as the general reserve of the _Grande
Armée_, and would move to support either Schwarzenberg, St. Cyr, or
Napoleon, according to circumstances. Napoleon greatly underestimated
the pressure on his flanks. He says in the despatch that Chichagov is
only 20,000 strong, that his junction with Tormazov will only raise his
force to 40,000, and that Schwarzenberg can easily deal with him. As a
fact, both Schwarzenberg and St. Cyr were opposed by greatly superior
numbers. Even when the former had been joined by his reinforcements he
was still outnumbered by Chichagov, who might be further strengthened
by Ertel from Mozyr. On the north Wittgenstein and Steingell had
50,000 men against St. Cyr's 30,000. To afford adequate support to the
wings Victor would have needed 80,000 men.

A few words must here be said upon the diplomatic situation. Prussia,
trodden into the dust by Napoleon's iron heel, was in the last stages
of destitution, while Austria, though sorely humiliated, was still
independent, far less wasted, and, in addition, was more or less
afraid of a revival of Prussia. These circumstances are reflected in
the despatches of the Prime Ministers, the Prussian, Hardenberg, being
eager to take vigorous steps and inclined to believe in the rumours
of French defeats; while Metternich is pessimistic and obviously
playing for his own--or Austria's--hand. He seems after the fall of
Moscow to have considered that Napoleon might win, and accordingly
a reinforcement of about 5000 men was despatched to Schwarzenberg.
Otherwise there were signs that Napoleon's vassals were beginning to
falter at the never-ending drain of human life. Bavaria and Württemberg
sent drafts to refill the wasted ranks of their contingents; but the
King of Württemberg spoke of his uneasiness at receiving no news. The
Grand Duke of Baden professed himself unable to add to his treaty
contingent. In his growing anxiety Napoleon actually went to the length
of politely asking the King of Prussia to replace two weakened cavalry
regiments. He also directed that every reinforcement despatched was to
be stated in all newspapers at double its strength, so as to impose
upon the Russians should the tidings reach them!

After the failure of the sortie from Riga Count Steingell made up his
mind to waste no more time in attempting to execute the official plan
of operations, but to join Wittgenstein without delay. On October 5th
he left Riga, and proceeded by forced marches up the right bank of the
Düna. On the 15th he reached Druia, having marched over 180 miles in
ten days.

On October 10th Wittgenstein's first column of reinforcement, over
5000 strong, arrived at Sivokhino. On the same day the 9000 men of the
second column reached Nevel, and on the 14th its junction with the main
force was practically complete. Wittgenstein had now under his hand
about 40,000 men, including 5000 cavalry and Cossacks, with 154 guns.

Wittgenstein distributed the militia battalions among the infantry,
one to each regiment, and his staff issued special orders as to how
these enthusiastic but raw troops were to act in battle. The effect was
excellent; and though the men were imperfectly clothed and equipped,
and almost untrained, they rapidly gained efficiency and cohesion.

The unfortunate effect of the elaborate and too minute Imperial plan
of operations now became evident. Steingell had acted upon his own
judgment in marching to reinforce Wittgenstein; but he felt himself
obliged to act upon his master's orders as far as possible, and so
crossed the Düna at Druia to operate on the left bank. He was thus
completely separated from Wittgenstein, and the latter could only
endeavour to remedy the strategic defect by bridging the river nearer
Polotsk. As he had no pontoons the operation was likely to prove a
lengthy one. He ordered his chief of engineers, Colonel Count Sievers,
to construct a bridge at Desna, detailing as his escort 4 battalions of
infantry and a regiment of cavalry--2500 men and 4 guns.

So far as there was any concerted plan of operations on the part of
the Russian commanders, it appears to have been that Wittgenstein was
to attack Polotsk and Steingell to cut off St. Cyr's retreat. It was
clear that the French general might choose to hold Polotsk merely by
a rear-guard, and destroy Steingell's small force by concentrating
upon him the bulk of his own army. To obviate this, Wittgenstein must
attack Polotsk speedily and vigorously. Even so the outlook was not
altogether promising. Polotsk was fortified; and St. Cyr was quite
strong enough to hold it against the 37,000 men of whom Wittgenstein
disposed after deducting Sievers' detachment.

Wittgenstein distributed his numerically strong but rather incoherent
force into three large divisions of all arms, commanded respectively
by Lieutenant-Generals Prince Iachvil and Berg and Major-General
Beguichev, besides a flank detachment under Major-General Alexiev. On
the 16th he began his march upon Polotsk, while Steingell was moving
from Druia.



Commander of the 1st Russian Army Corps in 1812]

St. Cyr did not believe that he could hold his own unaided against the
united Russian forces; but determined to defend Polotsk if Wittgenstein
should dash his head against its entrenchments. He detached Corbineau
with his cavalry brigade and three weak Bavarian battalions to observe
Steingell, passed his trains, escorted by Doumerc and Castex, across
to the left bank of the Düna and posted the rest of his forces in the
entrenchments which he had caused to be thrown up. Polotsk itself was
covered by a palisaded parapet. Across the western part of the town a
second palisaded parapet had been carried from the Polota to the Düna,
covering the two bridges of rafts which had been thrown across the
river. On the western bank of the Polota, north-west of the town were
three redoubts, and to the north the Roman Catholic cemetery had been
entrenched. On the east of the Polota the exterior chain of defence
was less complete. Three redoubts and an outlying battery were under
construction, but not yet finished. Below the town batteries had been
thrown up to flank the entrenchments on the western side. The passage
of the Polota had been rendered as difficult as might be, and at the
village of Struria above Polotsk the ground near the river had been
flooded by damming up a brook.

Merle's division held the entrenched western side of the town, and the
first of the Polota redoubts. Wrede's Bavarians defended Nos. 2 and
3, the cemetery, Spas, and the line of the Polota. On the east side of
the Polota stood Legrand, while Maison continued the line to the Düna.
On the right flank were four squadrons of cavalry, all that St. Cyr had
retained. Struria was occupied by a detachment of Bavarians.

On the 18th Steingell had not yet reached Desna; the bridge was
scarcely commenced; and Wittgenstein decided to assault St. Cyr's
position. He rightly directed the weight of his attack upon the French
right and right centre, where the entrenchments were still incomplete.
Prince Iachvil was ordered to contain Merle and Wrede, while Berg and
Beguichev assailed Legrand and Maison.

The French outposts were driven back by the advance of the Russians;
but when Berg and Beguichev assailed the main French line they could
make little headway. The combat swayed backward and forward; the
Russian militia behaved with splendid bravery; but the French troops,
aided by their entrenchments, everywhere held their ground; the single
redoubt carried by the Russians could not be held in the face of the
furious fire poured into it from the entrenchments before Polotsk.
Wittgenstein apparently lost his head; and though he had at first,
according to Russian authorities, merely intended a demonstration, he
had by the evening employed nearly the whole of Berg's and Beguichev's
divisions in vain attempts to force the French right.


October 18th-19th, 1812]

About 4 p.m., apparently on the hypothesis that St. Cyr had weakened
his left to withstand the attack on his right, Wittgenstein ordered
Iachvil to assault in earnest the western works. The attempt was
hopeless, and could not for a moment have succeeded. Such advantage as
the Russians gained was due to a rash counter-attack made by a Swiss
regiment and a battalion of Croats. They suffered very heavily and were
driven back upon the works, the Croats being mostly captured. But this
was all that Iachvil could achieve, though his militia fought with
fanatic fury. At nightfall St. Cyr's position was practically intact;
and the Russians had certainly lost far more heavily than the French.
While the battle was proceeding, Steingell was approaching by the left
bank of the Düna, but was only able to reach the Uchach, 7 or 8 miles
west of Polotsk, by the evening of the 18th with his advance-guard. De
Chambray criticises him for his slowness; but as he only crossed the
Düna on the 16th, and then had nearly 50 miles of bad road to traverse
in order to reach Polotsk, the stricture appears unjust. On the 19th
Steingell informed Wittgenstein that he was at hand. The bridge at
Desna was hardly commenced, and had St. Cyr been a little stronger
the position of the Russians would have been even more serious than
it was. Wittgenstein's army had obviously been badly shaken by the
fierce fighting of the day before; for he made no attempt to renew the
attack until Steingell could join in from the south. This threw an
awkward responsibility upon the commander of the weak Finland corps,
and exposed him to the risk of destruction should St. Cyr decide to
hold Polotsk only as a _tête de pont_ and concentrate a superior force
on the left bank of the Düna. To the writer it seems that St. Cyr might
have abandoned his outlying works, and left the inner and continuous
line to be held by about 14,000 men, while with the remaining 14,000
(allowing for losses) he attacked and defeated Steingell, who had
scarcely 10,000 actually in hand. This, however, he did not do; and as
the precise strength of the entrenchments is a matter of doubt he was
perhaps right. He detached one regiment from each of his divisions,
and sent them under General Amey to reinforce Corbineau. A Cuirassier
regiment was also directed to the Uchach. Steingell's advance-guard,
only four battalions under Colonel Turshaninov, naturally halted
before this accumulation of force and waited for the main body, while
Steingell apparently was listening for the sound of Wittgenstein's guns
before advancing on Polotsk. The French containing force took up a
fairly strong position among woods and broken ground, and effectually
checked the advance of the Finland corps. St. Cyr, however, made up his
mind that he was not strong enough to contend at the same time with
both Russian forces, and in the evening began to evacuate Polotsk.
Iachvil noted the withdrawal of troops and opened fire on his front,
the Russian centre and left taking up the ball. The Russians were too
late to molest the evacuation of the outer works, but they pushed
forward against the inner line round the town. The houses everywhere
took fire, partly ignited by the Russian howitzers, partly, as it
would seem, burned by the French to clear the front of some of their
works, which would otherwise have been masked. The Russian infantry
attacks were everywhere repulsed; and during the evening Legrand's
and Maison's divisions and the Bavarians defiled through the town and
crossed the bridge, covered by Merle's Swiss and Croats. At midnight
the Russians entered Polotsk; but the battle was far from its end.
Merle and his gallant regiments disputed every inch of the streets
with splendid valour, repeatedly repulsing the headlong charges of the
Russian infantry. By 2.30 p.m. the whole French army was safe on the
left bank of the Düna, and the bridges were destroyed. St. Cyr, as he
directed the battle, was severely wounded in the foot, and disabled
for the rest of the campaign. He had perhaps committed an error in not
merely holding the inner works at Polotsk and thus concentrating a
superior force on Steingell; but the steady and successful retreat did
him much honour. It seems clear that he was throughout master of his
operations; and that Wittgenstein could only press the withdrawal very
slightly. The honours of the fighting rested chiefly with the gallant
Swiss regiments of Merle's division, whose conduct in the rear-guard
was truly admirable.

St. Cyr being now for the moment in safety, reinforced the force
facing Steingell with another French regiment and placed Wrede in
command. At 4.30 a.m. on the 20th he fell unexpectedly upon Steingell,
whose advance-guard, surprised in its bivouacs, was seized with a panic
and dispersed. Buturlin says that 1800 men of 2 regiments of Chasseurs
were captured, but as this would appear to be almost their whole
strength, and they figure later as at least 2 battalions strong, this
is doubtless an exaggeration. Steingell's main body was not closely
supporting the unlucky vanguard, and on its dispersal he hastily
collected the remainder of his troops and retreated on Desna, where he
crossed the Düna, while Wrede, having disposed of him, rejoined the
main body of the French army. Besides St. Cyr, Legrand, the senior
divisional commander, was wounded, and the temporary charge of the 2nd
and 6th Corps devolved upon Merle. On the 21st he finally retreated
from before Polotsk. Wittgenstein, hampered by lack of engineers and
bridging material, could not establish a passage over the Düna until
the 23rd. Only a detachment of cavalry under Colonel Rüdiger forded the
river and skirmished with Merle's outposts. To make the best of things
Wittgenstein detached a division of all arms under General Sazonov to
Desna to reinforce Steingell. The latter thereupon on the 23rd repassed
the Düna, detached Major-General Vlastov with a force of 8 regular
battalions, 1 militia battalion, 3 squadrons of Hussars, a regiment
of Cossacks and 12 guns--about 5000 men in all--to observe Dünaburg,
and with the rest of his force moved once more up the left bank of the
river. On the same day Wittgenstein completed a bridge at Polotsk and
began to cross. He had just been joined by two battalions of Novgorod
militia, which he left with another militia battalion, 2 batteries,
a detachment of regulars and some cavalry and Cossacks to garrison

Merle retreated from before Polotsk in 3 columns, Legrand's division
moving on Bechenkowiczi, Wrede, with the remains of the 6th Corps
and Corbineau's cavalry, on Glubokoië to cover the road to Vilna, the
remainder of the 2nd Corps and Doumerc's Cuirassiers on Chasniki by way
of Uchach and Lepel.

Martinien's lists, probably not quite complete, show 238 officers of
the 3 "combatant" arms, almost all of the 2nd Corps, killed and wounded
during the three days' fighting round Polotsk. The French loss would
therefore have been in the region of 5000. The number of unwounded
prisoners was apparently about 1000. The French lost also 1 gun. The
Russians only admit a loss of 3000 killed and wounded, but, seeing
the character of the fighting, and that the French were acting on the
defensive and covered by entrenchments, this estimate is certainly far
too low. Probably, allowing for Steingell's losses, 8000 would not be
too low a figure. Among the wounded were Major-Generals Balk, Hammen
and the Prince of Siberia; and Privy Councillor Bibikov and Chamberlain
Mordvinov, who commanded militia battalions.

Marshal Victor cannot long have had Napoleon's instructions in his
hands when he was called upon to act upon them. On reaching Smolensk
he cantoned his corps between that place and Orsha. His troops
appear to have maintained good discipline; and a commencement was
made of establishing order in the vicinity. Some officers, at least,
succeeded in instilling confidence into the villagers and obtaining
supplies by regular methods; and more might have been done had the
9th Corps remained longer in the district. Upon learning from St.
Cyr of the large reinforcements which were joining Wittgenstein,
Victor sent Dändels' German division to Vitebsk, and four battalions
to Bechenkowiczi to watch the line of the Düna. Then he heard of the
abandonment of Polotsk; and it was clear that he must assist the
overmatched army of St. Cyr. He accordingly directed Dändels upon
Bechenkowiczi; and with the rest of his corps moved towards Chasniki.

The result of the operations about Polotsk therefore had been that
the French had been forced to abandon the line of the Düna, and that
to sustain them Napoleon's sole powerful reserve had to be diverted
to sustain the retreating 2nd and 6th Corps. Only the small force
at Smolensk was now available to reinforce the retreating army of
the centre; and there was hardly anything to oppose the advance of
Chichagov on the Berezina. On October 25th Napoleon was 70 miles
south-west of Moscow, just about to retreat on Smolensk, with the Grand
Army of Russia on his left flank able to reach his goal before him.
Wittgenstein was advancing from the Düna towards the Berezina, but was
faced by an equal or superior force, and might be kept from the main
line of communications. Chichagov was at Brest-Litovsk, ready to march
on Minsk, with nothing in his front but feeble detachments.

Therefore, in the last days of October, the focus of operations became
the Berezina near Borisov. Upon it were converging: (1) Napoleon,
nearly 400 miles distant, with an equal or superior enemy attending him
on the flank and able to reach Smolensk before him; (2) Wittgenstein,
90 miles away, with an equal French force in his front; (3) Chichagov,
262 miles distant, with hardly anything to oppose him. Schwarzenberg
was in rear of Chichagov, and watched by a force at least able to
seriously hamper any attempt at pursuit made by him. So the curtain
rose upon the last act of the great tragedy, as from every side
Napoleon's armies and those of his enemies set their faces towards
the Berezina, soon to acquire a terrible renown in the history of the



On October 26th the French retreat by the Moscow-Smolensk road
definitely commenced. Napoleon with the Guard and 4th Corps moved
back to Borovsk. Ney was directed by Vereia on Mozhaïsk, while Davout
with the 1st Corps and the relics of the 1st and 3rd Cavalry Corps
remained near Maloyaroslavetz until the evening. And, while Napoleon
was retracing his steps, Kutuzov, also, was retreating upon Kaluga.
He apparently feared that the French, having the road open, would
move westward to Medyn and thence south-eastward upon Kaluga. This
hypothesis is a direct reflection upon his action in abandoning
his position outside Maloyaroslavetz. As matters stood, Kutuzov's
inference was not unreasonable; Poniatowski's corps was actually on
the march from Vereia to Medyn, and appeared to be the advance-guard
of a turning movement. Miloradovich remained in observation on the
original Russian position, and Platov continued to hover about
Davout's corps. The _Corps de Bataille_ retrograded to Gonsherevo,
about 12 miles from Kaluga. Paskievich's division was sent to bar the
Medyn-Kaluga road at Adamovskoë, some miles to the westward. There he
was joined by Ilovaïski IX and his Cossack detachment. Miloradovich
was about to fall back on the Russian main body when it was discovered
that Maloyaroslavetz was evacuated. Kutuzov was informed, and the
advance-guard reoccupied the line of the Luzha.

Kutuzov appeared to have inferred that Napoleon's intention was to
retreat upon Smolensk--as, in fact, it was. He accordingly directed
his main body upon Adamovskoë, evidently with the purpose of following
on the flank of the French retreat, while Miloradovich was ordered to
Medyn. The latter, however, disquieted by reports that the French army
was moving from Borovsk by cross-roads upon Medyn, hesitated, delayed,
and finally also moved to Adamovskoë. Kutuzov remained at the latter
place during the 29th, endeavouring to envisage the situation, and
finally appears to have decided that the _Grande Armée_ was retreating
on Vitebsk. The conclusion was reasonable enough. The march of the
French along the Borovsk-Mozhaïsk road might certainly indicate an
intention to cross the Smolensk road at Mozhaïsk and take a route
to the northward for Vitebsk--as Jomini considers that they should
have done. Consequently upon the 30th Kutuzov marched northwards upon
Mozhaïsk. Platov with his Cossacks and Paskievich's division was to
follow the French rear-guard. The advance-guard would move parallel
with the French left flank, while the _Corps de Bataille_ kept to the
left of the advance-guard, generally at about a day's march distance.
On the 30th the main army had reached Kremenskoë, but by that day the
French rear-guard had arrived at Mozhaïsk and all the corps were moving
along the highway to Smolensk. Kutuzov and Miloradovich therefore
turned to the westward, while Platov and Paskievich harassed Davout.

The result, therefore, was that the French army had at the outset
gained a start upon their pursuers. Bennigsen says that he advised
that the march should be directed from Adamovskoë on Yukhnov, thence
by a broad road to Slavkovo. It seems clear that this direction would
have been an excellent one. But Kutuzov knew that Napoleon was free to
use the Medyn road, and indeed expected him to do so. He had, however,
fallen back by Vereia, a direction which rather indicated an intention
of retreating upon Vitebsk. If he had hoped by taking this route to
deceive the Russians as to his line of march he had certainly succeeded.

From Mozhaïsk to Viasma the Moscow-Smolensk road proceeds generally
in a shallow arc of a circle, often describing a very sinuous course.
Miloradovich marched steadily to the south of it, gradually closing in,
and moving much faster than the already dwindling and straggling French
army with its immense trains. Still farther to the south and far to the
rear the Russian _Corps de Bataille_ had turned in the right direction
and was also marching for Viasma. The roads by which it was forced to
proceed were wretched, but none the less the troops marched at a very
creditable pace, covering some 74 miles in 4 days.

Meanwhile the Napoleonic host was making its way into and along the
Moscow-Smolensk high-road. Junot's corps being actually on it when
the retreat from Maloyaroslavetz began of course led the way; behind
it came in succession the Guard, the 2nd and 4th Cavalry Corps, and
the 3rd, 4th, and 1st _Corps d'Armée_, while Poniatowski covered
the left flank. At Vereia, on the 27th, Mortier rejoined, bringing
with him his prisoner, Winzingerode. Napoleon treated the general
with gross insolence and brutality, overwhelming him with abuse, and
actually condemned him to death as a traitor because he was a German
and therefore a subject of one of his vassals! It is difficult to say
whether he was or was not in earnest. When he was enraged his manners
were brutal beyond words; and at this time he had every cause for being
exasperated. In any case, he gave way to the remonstrances of Berthier
and Murat. His conduct was otherwise inexcusable. Winzingerode had
entered the service of Russia previous to the formation of the Rhine
Confederacy. After being kept in suspense for some days Winzingerode
was sent in custody to France; but he was rescued in Lithuania by
Cossacks, as we shall have occasion to mention.

On the 28th Napoleon, at Mozhaïsk, received a report from Davout that
he had as yet seen no enemies but Cossacks. He thereupon inferred that
the main Russian army was marching to cut his line of retreat. Its
natural objective would in that case be Viasma, and the Emperor decided
to push for that place with all speed with the Guard.



From the picture by Verestchagin]

On the evening of the 28th Davout was near Vereia. He reported that
the Russians were already showing infantry--these were of course
Paskievich's division. He begged the Emperor to put a stop to the
wholesale burning of villages by the corps ahead of him. Demoralisation
was spreading fast, and the men were abandoning the ranks in crowds.
The usual straggling array of march of the Napoleonic hosts was a bad
preparation for a retreat in face of an enemy. The field of Borodino
was crossed by the Guard at daybreak on the 29th. It still presented
a fearful spectacle. Junot's men had been unable to bury many even of
the French dead; and the ground was strewn with rotting corpses mingled
with the wreckage of the terrible struggle. The hospitals at Kolotskoï
and elsewhere were mere charnel-houses in which the dead lay heaped
with the living, amid pestilence, filth, and destitution. About 1500
unhappy creatures still remained, Junot having been unable to remove
them. Napoleon issued an order that every private carriage or other
non-military vehicle was to carry one or two. Its effect was simply to
hasten the end of the unfortunate invalids, who were so much additional
encumbrance to men already beginning to feel the pinch of want. They
were abandoned by the drivers at the earliest opportunity: some
apparently were murdered outright; not one, probably, lived to reach
Smolensk. Food was becoming scarce. As far as Mozhaïsk the country was
not entirely devastated, and the leading troops had been able to feed
their horses; but there was nothing for the rear-guard, whose plight
was rendered all the worse by the reckless destruction of shelter by
the corps ahead of them. After Mozhaïsk the wasted countryside afforded
little or no forage; the horses, already exhausted and over-worked,
were reduced to such substitutes for fodder as thatch and autumn
leaves, and died by hundreds every day. The destruction of the means of
transport meant the loss of much of the already too scanty supply of
food. When it was not lost outright it was pillaged by the stragglers
and simply served to keep alive these useless beings, while better
and braver men died of starvation. By November 3rd such supplies as
had been brought were almost entirely exhausted; the only resource of
the starving horde was the flesh of the horses which were continually
breaking down. The officers, of course, and the head-quarters, were
better provided; and some of the men had still remains of their
plunder, but these were the exceptions.

The weather was still fine, but it was steadily growing colder, and
the half-famished men, ill-clothed, ill-shod, weary with marching,
obtained little rest in their chilly bivouacs, and became day by day
less able to endure their trials. Those who left the line of march were
commonly slaughtered or captured. Capture was often the same thing as
lingering death. The peasants, naturally half barbarous, and maddened
by the excesses of the invaders, showed little mercy. Sir Robert Wilson
tells from his own knowledge how they burned and buried alive their
prisoners. Sometimes they were massacred by the women. Even when their
lives were spared they were often wholly or partially stripped, and the
effect upon frames enfeebled by privation was generally fatal. It is
useless to dwell in detail upon the hideous barbarities perpetrated,
still less is it profitable to reprobate them. It must be said that
if there be but too much testimony to the barbarity of the infuriated
Russians, there is also plenty of evidence as to their frequent
kindliness and humanity. At their worst be it remembered that they
were but retaliating for their own wrongs.

The mass of disbanded troops, which every day grew at the expense
of those who remained faithful, consisted in the first place of men
already weakened, who therefore fell out early and of course died. Then
there were many who had not the spirit to bear up under their misery
and wandered along in the crowd until they also fell and died. Lastly,
there were large numbers who were simply deserters--often of the worst
kind--men who left the ranks before they were disabled and subsisted
by murder and robbery. They did more than anything to destroy the
army. Some of the leaders of the faithful troops were aware of it. De
Fezensac tells how he ordered that no mercy or consideration was to be
shown them.

On the other hand, there were very many gallant soldiers of every rank
who kept their ranks and did their duty to the bitter end. Russian
eye-witnesses were full of admiration at the martial bearing of the
scanty and ever dwindling battalions which, with eagles in their
midst, moved doggedly on through the miserable horde of skulkers. The
officers, with few exceptions, remained firm to their duty. Their
intellectual and educational level was upon the whole naturally higher
than that of their men, and general good conduct among them was to
be expected. They were, too, generally better supplied with food and
clothing, and exercised more judgment in providing themselves.

The extent to which demoralisation affected the strategic units of
the army is difficult to decide; and the task is a somewhat invidious
one. The 3rd Corps certainly appears to have kept the best order and
discipline. It had taken a very small part in the demoralising sack
of Moscow; but a great deal of its persistent good conduct must be
attributed to the personal influence of its chief. The 1st Corps, on
the other hand, seems to have crumbled early. Davout was not a very
sympathetic personage, and perhaps the care which he had always taken
of his men, and his firm discipline, really unfitted them to bear the
strain of being in a condition of inferiority to the enemy. At any rate
the early demoralisation of the 1st Corps is an established fact. The
4th Corps also rapidly disbanded, as did also, apparently, the 5th and
8th. Of the cavalry we hear little. The Guard took the lion's share of
whatever food and shelter was to be had; nevertheless its conduct was
not relatively better than that of the 3rd Corps--perhaps not so good,
since it never experienced the same trials.

[Illustration: Plan of the approximate positions of the French and
Russian Main Armies on October 31st, to indicate the danger incurred by
Napoleon's extended order of march]

Napoleon, with the Guard, reached Viasma on October 31st. The cold on
this day was greater than it had hitherto been; and the Emperor donned
a Polish dress of green, heavily furred, and a fur cap. At Viasma was
General Evers' column of drafts. There was also in the place a small
magazine of bread, biscuit, flour, and rice. It was pillaged by the
leading troops, and so great was the demoralisation that much of the
town was destroyed, though thousands tramping painfully behind were
thus deprived of shelter. On this day the Guard, the 2nd and 4th
Cavalry Corps, and Junot's Corps were about Viasma; Ney one march short
of it; Eugène and Poniatowski about Gzhatsk, and Davout at Gridnevo.
The line was nearly 70 miles long from front to rear. Miloradovich was
near at hand with his cavalry, but his infantry could not arrive before
the 3rd. Kutuzov also was marching for Viasma, but was still 60 miles

Davout's slow withdrawal was doubtless dictated by a desire to save as
much as possible of the artillery and trains; but in the circumstances
it was impossible to do much, and it would have been better to abandon
at once everything that fell behind. Lack of shelter, inadequate food,
and the steady harassing of Platov was rapidly breaking up the 1st
Corps. It had already abandoned 20 guns and much of its trains; the
roads were dotted with men and horses dead of fatigue.

Napoleon remained for 36 hours at Viasma, principally occupied with
desk-work. He informed the generals in the rear of his retrograde
march, representing it as a purely voluntary movement made to come
into touch with his wings. From Baraguay d'Hilliers he learned that
he had advanced to Selnia, and despatched orders for him to return
to Smolensk. From Victor he became aware that the 9th Corps had been
forced to support St. Cyr.

General Ilovaïski IV, temporarily commanding Winzingerode's detachment,
had reoccupied Moscow on October 23rd. He found there some 1500 sick
and wounded whom Mortier had been unable to evacuate, and 42 mounted
guns, of which 24 were French.

Ney's corps reached Viasma on November 1st. Miloradovich continued to
move parallel to the road, hastening the march of his infantry and
anxious to strike a blow. At 11 a.m. on the 2nd Napoleon left for
Semlevo. Davout in the evening arrived at a point about 9 miles from
Viasma and a little more than 1 east of the village of Federovskoië.
Eugène and Poniatowski were between Viasma and Federovskoië. Ney was
to take over rear-guard duty as soon as Davout should pass Viasma.
Napoleon was angry with the slowness of the latter; but the orders
which he issued to hasten the march of the trains could not be executed
owing to the deplorable state of the horses. The orders to prevent
straggling were equally impossible of execution. None the less,
Davout had certainly moved very slowly, and there was some excuse
for the Emperor's irritated remark that "the Prince of Eckmuhl keeps
the Viceroy and Poniatowski waiting for every band of Cossacks that
he sees." In justice to Davout it must be said that the young and
inexperienced Eugène appears often to have delayed him by his own lack
of speed.

At 8 a.m. on the 3rd Miloradovich with Korff's and Vassilchikov's
divisions reached Maximovo, a village some 2 miles from Federovskoië,
and about 1 mile south of the high-road. Davout was passing through
Federovskoië, his leading division--Gérard's--being nearly abreast of
Maximovo. The Hussars of Akhtyrka, supported by a brigade of dragoons,
boldly charged the head of Gérard's column, while the Russian horse
artillery opened a brisk cannonade on his flank. The 2nd Corps could
not come into action before ten; while Kutuzov was only just leaving
Dubna, nearly 30 miles from Viasma.

Gérard's division, attacked without warning, was checked in its march
upon Viasma. Platov was close on Davout's rear, and as soon as he heard
the sound of Miloradovich's cannonade he pressed home his advance,
Paskievich marching straight upon Fedorovskoië, while Platov turned it
on the left. Davout saw that there was not a moment to lose in clearing
the way before the arrival of Miloradovich's infantry, and hurried his
divisions up at the double to support Gérard. Eugène turned back to his
colleague's support, while Poniatowski took up a position in advance
of Viasma to support Eugène. Ney posted his corps to the right of the
town, behind the Viasma river; he threw a bridge across it in order to
facilitate the retirement of his colleagues' trains. The river makes an
acute angle a little south of the town, so that Ney had it both before
and behind him; he threw a second bridge over it to assure his own

Miloradovich had available for the conflict the 2nd and 4th Army
Corps, Paskievich's division of the 7th and Platov's Flying Corps,
perhaps 30,000 or 32,000 combatants in all, with some 120 guns. The
estimates of the French force vary. Davout may have had 20,000 infantry
and artillery, Eugène perhaps 15,000, Ney probably 8000, Poniatowski
about 3500. The remains of the corps cavalry and of the 1st and 3rd
Reserve Corps probably could not muster 4000 mounted men. The artillery
could still count over 300 guns, but the worn-out state of their
teams rendered them incapable of manoeuvring. The troops, with the
exception of those of Ney, were demoralised.

[Illustration: BATTLE OF VIASMA

Positions about 10 a.m.]

Davout's troops, ranged in dense battalion columns, attacked the
Russian cavalry on the road and broke through, scattering the hostile
squadrons, some of which had to retreat towards the north to join
Platov. This appears to have occurred at about 10 a.m. Paskievich
meanwhile had carried Federovskoië, and Platov was harassing the French
on the right; while Prince Eugen's division of the 2nd Corps formed
across the road just as the Russian horsemen gave way and poured a
heavy fire into the head of Davout's column. The Marshal's position
was extremely critical. The Viceroy, however, was now close at hand
with Broussier's and Guilleminot's divisions and the 5th Corps. He
cannonaded the flank and rear of the 4th Division and attacked it with
a cloud of skirmishers. Its commander believed that he could hold his
own, but Miloradovich was of a different opinion, and, seeing the force
which was coming from Viasma, he was probably correct. Eugen drew
back into line with the rest of the Russian infantry on the south of
the road, and Davout's troops were able to defile past. But they had
suffered considerably, and the disorder among them was increased by the
cannonade beneath which they had to march. The trains streamed away to
the north of the road to reach Viasma, while the 1st Corps inclined to
the south to come into line with the 4th and 5th Corps. Eugène formed
across the road with Poniatowski in support; but as Platov spread
to the north he threw back his right wing. Davout's troops were on
Eugène's right, nearly parallel with the line of the road. To support
and steady them Ney advanced Razout's division, while Ledru's remained
to check Uvarov, who was now coming up with Kutuzov's advance-guard.
Uvarov, however, who had only the bulk of Golitzin's Cuirassiers under
his command, could only confine himself to a desultory cannonade. The
head of Kutuzov's column reached Bykovo, 5 miles from Viasma, in the
afternoon, but it had marched 22 miles already and could hardly engage
that day.

Miloradovich, after Davout had passed, deployed his whole force across
the road and marched forward, Eugen's, Paskievich's and Choglokov's
divisions in first line, the remaining two in reserve, Platov pushing
forward on the right, Korff and Vassilchikov in reserve and on the
left. The French generals, fearing that at any moment Kutuzov might
debouch in their rear, held a conference on the road, and decided
to retreat. The final withdrawal commenced at about 2 p.m. Eugène
and Poniatowski succeeded in passing through the town in fair order;
but Davout's shaken troops fell back in confusion, hotly pressed by
Paskievich and Choglokov. Ney covered the retreat of his colleague to
the utmost of his power, and retired through Viasma, burning such of it
as remained intact. The French bivouacked in the woods on the west of
the town. The night proved bitterly cold.

The French losses are usually stated at 4000 killed and wounded. Those
of the Russians may have amounted to 2500. Miloradovich captured 3 guns
and about 2000 prisoners, besides some thousands of the disbanded mob.
Among the prisoners was General Pelletier, commanding the artillery
of the 5th Corps. The French writers attribute the defeat mainly to
Davout's error in inclining to his right as he fell back instead of his
left, but it is doubtful whether this was more than a subsidiary cause.

On the 4th Kutuzov remained inactive at Bykovo. His troops may have
needed rest, but it is extraordinary that he made no attempt to crush
or at least to harass the weary, half-starved and beaten French army
behind the Viasma. Perhaps he was imposed upon by Ney's bold show in
the rear, and the good order of the undemoralised 3rd Corps. It is
perhaps difficult to judge him, since we can scarcely appreciate the
vast influence exercised by the prestige of the Napoleonic army upon
the minds of its opponents everywhere save in Britain. But to say the
least, he could and should have done much more.

Ney, early on the 4th, took up a strong position on the edge of the
woods. Beurmann was detached to the right to observe Uvarov, whom he
held in check during the day. Meanwhile the 1st, 4th and 5th Corps
defiled on the road to Dorogobuzh. All were in the greatest disorder.
The men were worn out with fatigue and appeared hopelessly discouraged,
only the Royal Guard of Italy still marched in fair order. The number
of stragglers, of whom the majority had thrown away their arms, was
enormous. Ney was much impressed by the disorder of the 1st Corps, and
his despatch upon the battle contained some bitter remarks upon it, as
well as the haphazard conduct of the engagement.

The substitution of the 3rd Corps for the 1st rear-guard duty was
another proof that Napoleon did not really understand the critical
state of affairs. Ney was an ideal rear-guard leader, and the 3rd Corps
was an intact and undiscouraged force, but it consisted of only two
divisions (the Württemberg troops having been amalgamated with the
other two) as against the five of the 1st.

At daybreak on the 5th the 3rd Corps withdrew in good order, but
followed and impeded by at least 4000 disbanded men of the other corps.
De Fezensac, in bivouac that night, ordered all able-bodied skulkers
to be driven away by force from the fires. Near Semlevo there was an
action with the leading troops of Miloradovich, but the 3rd Corps
was not molested on the 6th. Kutuzov, had he pushed forward on the
4th, would certainly have destroyed Ney and probably Eugène also. The
Russians were so strong in cavalry that they could always retard the
French retreat by employing it vigorously to harass the moving columns.
However this may be, Kutuzov on the 5th bent south-westward to Ielnia,
while Miloradovich and Platov continued to follow and harass the
French rear-guard. Many stragglers were slain or taken by the Cossacks
and waggons were abandoned in numbers; but no impression was made upon
Ney's corps, which continued its march to Dorogobuzh and there took up
a position.

Napoleon had intended to receive battle east of Dorogobuzh. His plan
appears in his correspondence, and it can only be characterised as
utterly impracticable. It assumed that the whole Russian Army was
following on the main road, and also counted upon being able to
ambuscade their advance-guard. Even had the army been less reduced and
demoralised this would have been impossible, the Russians being so
strong in cavalry. The plan was not executed; by the time that he had
drawn it up Napoleon had probably read Ney's despatch of the 4th, in
which the marshal stated his conviction that only a part of the Russian
army was at Viasma. Next day Ney reported that he had learned that
Russian columns were passing him on the right; and Napoleon retreated
with the Guard upon Mikalevka.

On the 6th and 7th the weather, which had hitherto been by day
comparatively mild, changed for the worse, with violent gales and heavy
snowstorms. After this the destruction of the army proceeded apace.
The horses were the first to suffer; it was impossible to obtain any
forage with the ground covered deep with snow. No provision had been
made for rough-shoeing the horses, except by the Polish cavalry; and
on the slippery surface of the trodden snow they fell in hundreds,
to be preyed upon by the starving troops. Vehicles of every kind
had to be abandoned; and each was instantly plundered by a group of
wolfish stragglers, often to the accompaniment of murder. The number
of disbanded men rapidly increased, and their lawlessness and savagery
grew even more quickly. Had it been possible to maintain better
discipline the state of the army might have been less intolerable.
Terrible as the conditions were, they could have been somewhat
ameliorated had there been a better sense of comradeship among the
troops, which might have prevented so many of them from disbanding and
degenerating into veritable wild beasts.

But in truth the misery was so great that the finest loyalty and
steadiness could not greatly have alleviated it. Had there been
a sufficiency of even the coarsest food, the troops might have
withstood the cold. But almost the only resource remaining was the
unwholesome flesh of the worn-down horses. Even the officers were often
little better off as regards meat, though they could still procure
small quantities of biscuit or flour. The troops as a whole were
insufficiently clad and, above all, ill-shod; those who succeeded in
obtaining a little food were often disabled by frost-bite or injuries
to their ill-protected feet. In the hope of guarding against the deadly
cold the men overloaded themselves with clothing of every kind and
quality, often filthy rags torn from the dead and dying. In their fear
of taking a fatal chill they never removed them even for necessary
purposes, and dared not wash. In their ravening hunger they ate like
wild beasts, tearing the raw or half-cooked horse-flesh with their
teeth, and covering themselves and their wretched garments with blood
and offal. Their appearance soon became indescribably hideous, and the
result of their panic-born neglect was, of course, loathsome disease.
Selfishness increased with misery; men thrust their weaker comrades
from the bivouac fires, and fought for the wretched carrion on which
they strove to maintain their existence; while those who fell were
robbed and stripped by passers-by.



From the painting by Adam]

Amid all this misery and lack of self-respect there was much that
redounds to the credit of human nature. Many soldiers added to their
hardships by endeavouring to assist the women and children who followed
the army. Officers who possessed private carriages gave them up to
these unhappy fugitives; those attached to the head-quarters, which
was better provided than the rest of the army, succeeded in saving
many. Unhappily the most necessary requisite was food, and this the
chivalrous protectors could not often give their charges. The hardy
female followers could protect and provide for themselves to some
extent, but too many of the officers' wives or connections were utterly
helpless, and their fate was a piteous one.

One of the most awful incidents of the retreat was the fate of the
Russian prisoners, of whom some 2000--stragglers, convalescents,
and civilians--were dragged with the army, under a guard made up of
fragments and detachments of every nation. From the first the captives
were treated with gross cruelty and neglect. The weakly ones who fell
behind were done to death without mercy. Every night the survivors were
huddled together, fireless, on the bare ground, without food save a
little raw horse-flesh. Before long even this was not forthcoming, and
the miserable prisoners, driven along and herded together like wild
beasts by men who were losing the traces of humanity, perished amid
horrible misery. Cannibalism is said to have raged among them. There
is no darker stain on the escutcheon of Napoleon (who must be held
ultimately responsible) than this treatment of men who were at any rate
open enemies, and some of whom were not even combatants.

Day by day the number of men in the ranks dwindled. Every bivouac was
the graveyard of hundreds of men and thousands of horses; the line of
march resembled a long battlefield. The roads were strewn with dead
or dying men and horses, abandoned guns and vehicles, and wreckage of
every kind. Amid this streamed westward in wild confusion the endless
procession of disbanded men and male and female camp-followers,
accompanied by vehicles of all kinds, through which the troops still
with the colours could scarcely force their way. Many men were already
so weak that they could hardly stumble along. Some became idiotic
with privation and the spectacle of the misery about them. The plight
of the troops in the ranks was no better; their devotion to duty only
prolonged their sufferings. Ill-clad, starving, stricken with cold
and disease, often half-blind from the effects of the glaring snow by
day and the smoke of the fires at night, it is wonderful that they
ever managed, as they did, to make some kind of fight. Their duties,
when they had strength to carry them out, were confined to beating off
the hovering Cossacks, and to destroying guns and waggons that would
otherwise have been abandoned.

From Dorogobuzh Eugène's corps was diverted towards Dukhovchina with
the intention of directing it thence upon Vitebsk to relieve the
pressure upon Victor by Wittgenstein. The result was its practical

On November 7th Eugen of Württemberg attacked Razout's division
before Dorogobuzh and after some obstinate fighting, partly owing to
the indecision of its short-sighted commander, forced it to retreat
through the town with a loss of several hundred men and 4 guns. Ney,
who had hoped to delay Miloradovich for a day, was obliged to fall
back towards Smolensk. Dorogobuzh was choked with disbanded men, who
were ruthlessly murdered or stripped by the exasperated inhabitants. A
watchmaker boasted of having killed 11 Frenchmen with a knife which he
had concealed for the purpose! Miloradovich, however, was then obliged
to draw off his infantry towards the south for the sake of food and
shelter against the cold. He left the pursuit of Ney to Major-General
Yurkovski with a brigade of dragoons and some Cossacks, while Platov
followed Eugène towards Dukhovchina.

At Mikalevka Napoleon learned of Malet's audacious conspiracy in Paris,
and the tidings doubtless did not tend to relieve his mind. On the 8th
Junot's corps arrived at Smolensk; but the day before that ruined town
had been invaded by crowds of disbanded troops. Junot was not allowed
to pass his corps into it, and cantoned it in villages on the Mstislavl
road. Napoleon himself arrived on the 9th, only to be met by bad news
from every side.

Victor was proving unable to hold back Wittgenstein. Baraguay
d'Hilliers' division, as has been related, had pushed out to Ielnia,
and was retiring upon Smolensk, when on this day his rear-guard
brigade, 2000 strong, under General Augereau, was surrounded in the
village of Liakhova by Orlov-Denisov, with his own flying detachment
and those of Davidov, Seslavin, and Figner. Augereau was without
artillery, and not being supported by Baraguay d'Hilliers, who showed
great irresolution, was forced to surrender. Baraguay d'Hilliers
retreated hastily to Smolensk with the rest of his division, and was
very properly ordered home for trial. Besides Augereau's brigade
several depôts or posts of troops were captured by the Russian advanced
detachments. Kutuzov reached Chelkanovo on the Smolensk-Mstislavl road,
about 25 miles from Smolensk, on the 12th. He had not marched very
rapidly--some 120 miles in 9 days--but it is true that both roads and
weather were terrible. The Russians were well clothed and fairly well
fed; but many of the Russian troops were young, and the snowy bivouacs
had disastrous effects upon their unformed constitutions.

On this same disastrous day, the 9th, Eugène's corps, after 3 days'
struggling through the snow, reached the small river Vop, only 30
miles from Dorogobuzh. The Viceroy had already lost 1200 of his
remaining horses and much of his artillery. He had sent on a detachment
to bridge the stream, but materials were lacking, and the wretched
soldiers were forced to wade. The Royal Guard led the way, with Eugène
in their midst, with ice and water up to their waists, formed on the
opposite bank and drove away Platov's vanguard, which was already
across. Platov himself was tormenting the rear-guard with his light
artillery, and threatening the unhappy column in flank and rear. When
Eugène had crossed an effort was made to bring over the artillery
and baggage. The steep banks of the stream had been hurriedly made
practicable for vehicles, but the inclines were quickly covered with
ice; the ford was soon choked by guns and waggons sticking fast in
the mud, and eventually all but the small proportion which crossed
first had to be abandoned. There were terrible scenes on the bank
when this became known. A turmoil of fighting, pillage and murder
reigned. Many worn-out soldiers, struggling through the icy water,
were overcome by the cold and drowned: many others died in the night.
Broussier's division covered the rear against Platov all night, and
only crossed on the morning of the 10th, leaving behind them many sick
and wounded, a vast quantity of baggage and some 60 guns. Hundreds of
men, overcome by cold, threw away their arms. The bulk of the corps
streamed along the road to Dukhovchina completely disorganised; only
the Royal Guard and Broussier's division still moved with some show
of order. Dukhovchina was already occupied by Cossacks--the leading
regiments of Winzingerode's old detachment, now under Major-General
Golénischev-Kutuzov. They, however, of course had to retire before the
advance of the Royal Guard, and Eugène occupied the town. It had not
yet been plundered, and the exhausted remnants of the 4th Corps were
able to obtain food and a little rest. On the 12th Eugène set fire to
Dukhovchina and retreated on Smolensk, where he arrived on the 13th,
surrounded and harassed all the way by the indefatigable Cossacks. He
had with the colours only 6000 or 7000 armed men, and 20 guns at most
out of over 100.

Davout's and Poniatowski's[7] troops made their way from Viasma to
Smolensk with little opposition from the Russians, but disintegrating
day by day under the influence of cold, fatigue and hunger. The Poles
seem to have completely broken up, and only about 800 privates reached
Smolensk. On the other hand, they saved a large proportion of their
artillery, owing to their sensible precautions in rough-shoeing their

Ney reached the Dnieper at Solovievo on the 19th. The approach to
the bridge was choked for more than half a mile with abandoned guns
and waggons; and before passing Ney ordered his men to fire them.
In doing so they came upon some remnants of food supplies and some
spirits. In the woods on both sides of the road were thousands of
stragglers, largely wounded, whom the omnipresent Cossacks massacred
and plundered under the very eyes of their comrades. In the evening the
3rd Corps passed the river and destroyed the bridge. It defended the
passage against Yurkovski's brigade, the Cossacks, and some supporting
infantry, until the 12th, and then retreated on Smolensk, in weather
so awful that even the Russian Löwenstern speaks of it as something
exceptional. It was impossible to halt for fear of freezing, while the
icebound road was fatal to hundreds of exhausted men. A terrible night
in bivouac put the capstone on the sufferings of the devoted 3rd Corps.
On the 4th it entered Smolensk--some 4000 men left of more than 11,000
who had marched from Moscow.

It is now necessary to turn aside to follow the fortunes of Napoleon's
wings. On October 29th Victor joined Merle at Chasniki, at the junction
of the little river Lukomlia with the Ula, about 17 miles south-west
of Bechenkowiczi. Dändels had already joined Legrand. Wittgenstein
and Steingell united at Lepel on the same day and reached the Ula on
the 30th. They were, however, owing to the detachment of Vlastov's
division, not more than 33,000 strong, while the 2nd and 9th Corps,
even in the absence of Corbineau, mustered 36,000 infantry and 4000
cavalry. Victor therefore decided to attack, and sent to call in
Dändels and Legrand. Owing to misunderstandings, however, neither
Legrand nor the cavalry of the 9th Corps arrived, and Victor hesitated
to attack. Wittgenstein drove Victor's advance troops over the
Lukomlia, and brought a mass of artillery into action, which gained
the advantage over the French guns. After a long cannonade the action
died away, and before dawn on November 1st Victor retreated upon
Sienno, about 25 miles east of Chasniki. He had suffered no reverse,
and, indeed, had hardly engaged his troops. He may have thought, as
De Chambray says, that it would be better to temporise until he was
reinforced by Napoleon. Wittgenstein did not pursue, but moved Harpe's
division towards Bechenkowiczi to observe Victor's movements. The
latter, after remaining for two days at Sienno, turned south-westward
to Chereia, about 20 miles north of the Smolensk-Minsk road at Bobr.
Whether this move was due to his fear for the highway cannot be
determined, but the result was disastrous. On November 7th Harpe
attacked Vitebsk, which was now uncovered. The small garrison, under
General Pouget, was either killed or captured.

On October 29th, Chichagov started from Brest-Litovsk for Minsk. To
hold back Schwarzenberg he left with Sacken the divisions of Bulatov,
Lieven, and Essen III, a total of about 27,000 combatants, with 96
guns. Under his own command were the 2 corps of Voïnov and Sabaniev,
forming together the _Corps de Bataille_ under Langeron, and two
advance-guards commanded by Lambert and Chaplitz--33,000 men with 180
guns. Chichagov sent orders to Ertel to advance from Mozyr to meet
him. General Musin Pushkin was left with 4000 or 5000 men to guard
the Volhynian frontier. The Admiral left Pruzhani on the 30th and
reached Slonim on November 3rd. He might have moved more rapidly, but
he explained to the Tzar that he hoped to draw Schwarzenberg upon him
and be able to strike hard at him before marching upon Minsk. He waited
about Slonim until November 8th in this expectation, then, feeling that
further delay would be dangerous, started for Minsk. He had, in fact,
waited too long already.

Schwarzenberg, having left Kosinski's Poles to cover Warsaw and one of
Durutte's regiments to garrison that capital, concentrated the rest
of his army at Bieloslok, and marched for Volkovisk, which he reached
on November 8th, Chichagov being nearly 60 miles in advance with his
way clear before him. On the 14th Schwarzenberg was at Slonim with his
Austrians, while Reynier and Durutte were at Volkovisk. Sacken broke
up from Brest-Litovsk on November 1st. He left Colonel Witte with 3
battalions and 2 newly joined Cossack regiments to cover his base, and
marched for Volkovisk. Between him and his objective lay the extensive
forest of Bielovezhi, which he had to skirt, but on November 12th he
was nearing Volkovisk, throwing forward his right in order to interpose
between Schwarzenberg and Reynier. The latter, fearing to be assailed
in flank, fell back upon Volkovisk.

Volkovisk lies upon the right bank of the river Rossi, which flows
northward to the Niemen. Hard by the town a rivulet entered the Rossi.
Both were now frozen. North of the town are some low heights, and on
these the bulk of Reynier's army was posted; but his head-quarters were
in Volkovisk itself.

Sacken decided that his best course was to vigorously attack Reynier,
so as, at least, to bring back Schwarzenberg to his assistance. It was
a bold but perilous resolve, since Sacken was not greatly superior even
to Reynier in numbers, and might be taken in rear by the Austrians.
In the night of the 14th-15th his advance-guard surprised Volkovisk,
driving out its garrison and nearly capturing Reynier. The advance of
the Russian column, however, was then checked by Durutte.

On the 15th Reynier took up a position behind the town, his right,
consisting of Saxons, resting on the wooded bank of the Rossi, Durutte
in the centre, and more Saxons on the left. Sacken was drawn up south
of the town, with Bulatov on the right, Essen in the centre, and Lieven
on the left.

Early on the 15th Durutte retook Volkovisk. Sacken did not attempt
to recover it. The day passed in desultory cannonading, except on
Reynier's left, where the Russian cavalry of Bulatov's corps, under
Melissino, endeavoured to take advantage of a movement of Saxon
infantry to charge, but was handsomely repulsed by their horsemen.

Schwarzenberg, informed of Sacken's advance, left Frimont with about
7000 men at Slonim, and returned towards Volkovisk with the remaining
18,000. On the 15th his advance-guard was already well on the way; but
Sacken, misled by the false reports of some prisoners, decided to press
home his attack upon Reynier. On the 16th he recaptured Volkovisk, and
about midday developed a heavy attack upon Reynier's left, when guns
were heard on the road to Slonim nearly in rear of Sacken's centre,
and fugitives from the guards of baggage which had been sent there
announced that Schwarzenberg was at hand. Sacken at once began to
withdraw towards the left, first Lieven, then Essen, finally Bulatov.
It was dark before even Essen began his march, and the army retreated
safely to Svislozh on the Brest-Litovsk road.

He was hotly pursued by Schwarzenberg and Reynier, the latter following
him on the main road, while Schwarzenberg threatened to turn his
right, and interpose between him and the Bielovezhi Forest. During the
next ten days there was constant rear-guard fighting, though never
of a very severe description, as Sacken made his way back towards
Brest-Litovsk. On the 25th he took up a position to cover that place,
but his opponents were manifestly too strong for him, and on the 26th
it was reoccupied by Reynier. The net result of Sacken's operations
was that he had drawn Schwarzenberg far away from the decisive point
on the Berezina. On the 25th the Austrian general received a letter
from Maret at Vilna, bidding him turn back to support Napoleon. This
he at once did, but whatever he might or might not wish it was now
far too late. On the 27th, when he set out to remeasure his steps,
Napoleon was already crossing the Berezina, threatened by Chichagov and
Wittgenstein. Sacken's losses during his brief campaign had been heavy,
though certainly they had not approached the figure of 10,000, at which
the French estimated them. He had lost also a considerable part of his
trains. The losses of his opponents were perhaps about 3000 killed,
wounded, and prisoners. The importance of the strategic success of the
Russians is not, however, to be expressed in terms of losses.

The remains of the central Napoleonic army were collected at Smolensk
by November 13th. The leading troops had thus some five days' rest from
marching, but little alleviation of their misery. There had been some
1500 beef-cattle in the villages round the town, but most of these were
swept up by the Cossacks who preceded the march of the main Russian
army. In Smolensk itself there were considerable stores of flour,
grain, and brandy--probably enough to supply the remains of the army
for several days. There was also a certain quantity of biscuit, rice,
and dried vegetables. The Guard as usual was unduly favoured. Napoleon
ordered that it should have 15 days' supplies issued to it, while the
other unhappy corps were only to have six. Judging, however, from
narratives of members of the Guard, it never received anything like the
amount ordered. The men, hungry and improvident, seem to have largely
gorged themselves on their rations; a good many sold them at exorbitant
prices to others; in this way the survivors of Preising's Bavarian
horsemen were able to obtain a little food. Portable mills, which had
by this time begun to arrive, were also issued. Even in their misery
the soldiers made bitter jests at this provision for grinding flour
which was not to be had. Shelter there was little. Eyewitnesses give
grim accounts of the wretchedness within the walls. As corps after
corps reached the town in their misery the hospitals were choked with
sick and wounded, who were literally heaped into these dens of horror
without provision of any kind. The cold was worse than it yet had
been, and the men were frost-bitten by hundreds. It was fortunate for
Napoleon that a thaw set in on the 14th. While in the town the troops
had at any rate food enough for immediate needs, the troops of Junot
and Zayonczek in the villages outside were left unprovided for, with
the result that they pillaged such convoys as passed near them, and ate
hundreds of serviceable horses.

The army received indeed considerable reinforcements at Smolensk.
Baraguay d'Hilliers' column was distributed among the corps as they
arrived. The Vistula Legion was joined by its 3rd battalions, Ney's
corps by the 129th Regiment and that of Illyria. It is difficult to
state the strength of the army on the 14th, but it may be perhaps
estimated at nearly 60,000 men. The Guard still retained about 2500
badly mounted horsemen; all the other cavalry divisions did not
muster more than 3000 mounted men between them. The remnant of the
Cavalry Reserve--some 2000 sabres--was collected under the command of
Latour-Maubourg. Much of the artillery, which had been so far dragged
along, could no longer proceed, and 140 pieces were abandoned in



From the picture by Verestchagin]

On the 13th the remains of Eugène's corps poured in wild confusion
into the town. An issue of rations was commenced, but the starving
men broke from control and pillaged the magazines. Order was restored
by desperate exertions, but there had been much damage and waste of
precious food. Next day the 1st Corps flooded into Smolensk in a
state as pitiable as that of the 4th, and the disorder of this
erstwhile best disciplined of the army corps could not be restrained.
The storehouses were broken open amid frenzied scenes of disorder and
violence; the miserable wretches murdered one another at the doors and
in the streets. The provisions were pillaged, a great part of them
being of course destroyed in the confusion. Nothing was left for Ney's
brave men, who were sacrificing themselves to save the rest of the
army, except such remnants as they could obtain by searching for them.

Kutuzov meanwhile was advancing with a slowness and caution which
exasperated the more eager of his subordinates and caused some of them
to mutter angrily about treachery. On the 14th he marched 13 miles
from Chelkanovo to Jurovo, and halted for a day. It may well be, as
Clausewitz reasonably remarks, that his firmness was shaken by the
deteriorating condition of his own army, which was suffering severely
from the cold, and perishing in bivouac at an alarming rate, though,
of course, less rapidly than the _Grande Armée_, since the soldiers
were fairly well fed. This, however, would probably have impelled a
younger and more energetic man to deal a deadly blow at his opponents
before his own force melted away. Kutuzov, however, was undoubtedly too
old and infirm for the present crisis. Moreover, it is clear that the
Russian scouts greatly overrated the French numbers largely because the
stragglers were frequently mistaken for fighting men. A good many of
them still possessed weapons. Miloradovich left Choglokov's division to
watch Ney before Smolensk, and himself with the bulk of his force moved
round the town to join his commander-in-chief, while Platov moved past
it on the north. On the 16th Kutuzov moved on to Chilova, 4-1/2 miles
south-east of Krasnoï, and there halted.

On the 13th Napoleon directed Junot, with the 8th Corps and the remnant
of the dismounted cavalry, and Zayonczek, with the 5th Corps, upon
Krasnoï. Generals Eblé and Jomini had already been sent forward with
detachments of sappers to repair bridges and facilitate the march.
But already the disbanded troops had drawn ahead of the organised
bodies and were streaming along the highway, pillaging convoys and
spreading disorder everywhere. There were small magazines of food at
Krasnoï, Liadi, Tolochin, and other places, and a larger one at Orsha.
The situation was thus in one sense less unfavourable than before.
Unfortunately, however, the Russian army at Chilova was within easy
reach of the high-road; and now Napoleon, as though his evil-genius
ever directed him in 1812 to do the wrong thing, moved the remains of
his army along its front with a day's interval between its corps!

Claparède's Poles, escorting the treasure and head-quarters baggage,
and the little left of the reserve artillery, followed Junot. On the
14th Napoleon left Smolensk with the Guard and Latour-Maubourg. Eugène
was to leave on the 15th, Davout on the 16th, Ney on the 17th, after
destroying the ramparts. Davout was to reinforce Ney with one of his

On the 14th Count Ozharovski's flying column entered Krasnoï, and
began to destroy the stores collected there, but was driven out by
Claparède's division, and withdrew to Uvarova, on the Lossmina, 2 miles
to the south-east. Early on the 15th Miloradovich, with the 2nd and 7th
Corps and the 1st Cavalry Division, reached Riavka, a little way west
of Korythnia, just as Napoleon and the Guard were passing. He opened
with his artillery, but did not venture to attack the infantry of the
Guard, though the opportunity was surely worth seizing. He moved down
into the road when the last closed bodies had passed, and picked up
11 abandoned guns and 2000 stragglers. He then moved along the road
to Merlino, and took position across it with his front covered by a
rivulet, flowing as usual in a difficult gully. Napoleon reached
Krasnoï in safety, and the Guard camped about the little town.

Though a thaw was setting in this brought little relief to the
sufferings of the _Grande Armée_. Snow fell heavily, and the fatigue
of tramping through it was enormous, while the damp foggy weather told
almost as heavily upon the men as the bitter cold of previous days. The
horses appear to have completely broken down, when after some kind of
rest they had to resume the road. The artillery of the Guard, the best
appointed of the army, took 22 hours to cover the first 13 miles out
of Smolensk, and on reaching Krasnoï 12 of the 24 horse guns had to be
abandoned. Half of Latour-Maubourg's cavalry remnant were dismounted
in 2 days, while divisions abandoned and destroyed their reserve parks
wholesale, being utterly unable to get them through the broken country
west of Smolensk. The ravine of the Lossmina, east of Krasnoï, was one
of the most fatal to the trains; guns, waggons and vehicles of every
kind were literally heaped together to the east of it, where the road
passed through a defile.

Eugène left Smolensk on the 15th, but it was difficult to get the
worn-down troops and their fatal incubus of non-combatants away from
the town, and the 4th Corps by evening had only reached Lubna, about 7
or 8 miles on the road to Krasnoï. On the 16th it continued its march,
harassed all the way by clouds of Cossacks. On the afternoon of the
16th it found its way barred by Miloradovich, Kutuzov on the same day
reaching Chilova. Napoleon appears at last to have awakened to the
necessity of uniting his scattered columns, and remained at Krasnoï in
order to allow the 4th, 1st and 3rd Corps to close up. Davout on this
day left Smolensk with 4 divisions, and Zayonczek arrived at Dubrovna.
The shattered relics of the _Grande Armée_ were thus scattered on a
line of 60 miles. Even if the Poles and Junot be discounted, owing to
their small numbers, the main force was spread over 30 miles of road,
while Kutuzov, with his whole army, seriously reduced but in fine heart
and fair condition, lay close to its head.

Miloradovich, at Merlino, had the 2nd Corps, under Prince Dolgoruki,
drawn up across the road, while Raievski lay parallel with it on the
south. Uvarov's cavalry were in reserve. The relics of the 4th Corps
totalled only some 6000 combatants and a few guns, besides about 1200
armed stragglers, whom Guilleminot succeeded in collecting and forming.
These latter, however, were quickly repulsed, and driven behind the
remains of the 4th Corps, which, with Broussier's division on the
left, Phillipon's (formerly Delzons') in the centre and Pino's on the
right, steadily awaited destruction, cheering defiantly in answer
to the heavy cannonade of the Russians. Eugène, of course, rejected
with disdain Miloradovich's proposal of surrender, and moved forward.
Paskievich's extreme flank brigade was for a moment disordered by
Broussier's gallant advance, but the attack was speedily repulsed, and
only darkness saved the survivors of the 4th Corps. Leaving Broussier
to cover the rear, Eugène filed the other divisions to the right and
reached Krasnoï early on the 17th. He had only about 4000 men left.
The last guns had been captured, and Broussier's division almost

On the 16th, before daylight, Roguet's division of the Young Guard had
expelled Ozharovski's detachment from the villages which it occupied to
the south of Krasnoï. Roguet, of course, could not pursue his slight
success, as the whole Russian army was now nearing Krasnoï, but its
effect was to render Kutuzov more than ever cautious and circumspect.

The arrival of Eugène convinced Napoleon that if Davout and Ney were
to be saved he must make a stand in order to allow them to close up
upon him. The 4th Corps was incapable of taking any part in the action,
and he ordered it to defile on the road to Orsha. The infantry of the
Guard was drawn up to the south of Krasnoï, Claparède's division in
the town, Laborde in the centre, Roguet on the left near the Lossmina
ravine. The Old Guard, the cavalry, and Latour-Maubourg's few remaining
mounted troopers, with 30 guns were to move back towards Smolensk to
meet Davout. Napoleon's total strength amounted to less than 18,000
men, of whom 2500 were cavalry in miserable condition; while only the
light artillery of the Young Guard could manoeuvre away from the road.

Davout had left Smolensk on the 16th, and his leading division
bivouacked for the night about 2 miles past Korythnia. There the
Marshal learnt of Eugène's disaster. Sending off messengers to warn Ney
that he must hasten his march, he broke up at 3 a.m.

Kutuzov on his side had made up his mind to attack. Prince Golitzin,
with the 3rd Corps and the 2nd Cuirassier division, was to attack the
Guard in front. Miloradovich, strengthened by Korff's cavalry, was
to take position about Larionovo, a little east of the Lossmina, and
let Davout go by; but was then to fall vigorously upon his rear, and
incline to the left to support Golitzin. Tormazov with the 5th, 6th and
8th Corps, and the 1st Cuirassier Division, was to move to the left
and bar Napoleon's line of retreat. Ostermann and Vassilchikov were
some distance to the rear, but could easily come up during the day.
Exclusive of Platov, who was north of the Dnieper, and the various
flying columns, Kutuzov probably disposed of nearly 70,000 regulars,
with about 450 well-horsed cannon.

As regards his plan of action, one does not see why Miloradovich should
not had attacked Davout directly, Golitzin was too weak to hold the
Guard in check, while Tormazov's column was too strong for its purpose.
None the less, had the over-elaborate design been vigorously executed,
Napoleon's small available force of some 28,000 men might easily have
been destroyed.

Early on the 17th Golitzin moved upon Krasnoï, but was checked by
Roguet, who momentarily captured the village of Uvarova, driving
Ozharovski's detachment across the Lossmina. Golitzin therefore decided
to await Miloradovich's co-operation before pressing his advance; while
Kutuzov, hearing that the whole Imperial Guard, whose strength and
fighting power he enormously overestimated, was at Krasnoï, kept back

Davout's leading division (Gérard's) reached the Lossmina between 8 and
9 a.m., and came into line with Roguet; the remaining three followed.
The confusion in the rear was frightful; the trains of the 1st Corps
streamed away to the north of the road with the Russian cavalry and
Cossacks ranging among them. The panic-stricken drivers cut the traces
and fled with the horses, and much of the remaining baggage of the
1st Corps was taken, the spoil including Davout's private carriages,
containing, amongst other things, his Marshal's bâton and a valuable
collection of maps. Of organised resistance there was little except
from small bodies of brave men, who formed here and there to face the
cavalry, and for the most part met their death in the performance of
their duty. The effect of Napoleon's diversion was that the 1st Corps
succeeded in crossing the Lossmina, but its loss was very severe, for
it had to defile in square or close column to withstand the charges of
the Russian cavalry, exposed all the time to a heavy cannonade.

[Illustration: Positions about 10 a.m. on the 17th when Davout effected
his junction with Napoleon]

As soon as Davout and Mortier had established communication, Napoleon
began to retire upon Liadi with the Old Guard and the cavalry, except
the Dutch Grenadiers and Lancers, whom he left to support Mortier.
Miloradovich and Golitzin were now in touch, and began to press
vigorously. A murderous cannonade was directed upon the thin French
line south of Krasnoï, and under cover of it the Russian infantry
advanced. The Dutch Grenadiers, shattered by artillery fire, fell
out of the line, and the young "Flanqueurs-Chasseurs," who were
ordered by Roguet to take their place, could not bear up against the
iron hail. To support them Roguet sent the 1st Voltigeurs and the
Fusilier-Grenadiers. The Flanqueurs were extricated, but the Voltigeurs
were charged by Duka's Cuirassiers and destroyed, only forty wounded
men escaping. Nevertheless, it was already too late for the Russians
to gain any decisive success. Tormazov did not receive his orders to
advance until about midday, and the tracks were so bad and narrow that
he could not reach the high-road in time to bar Napoleon's march. Some
light cavalry were easily dislodged and the Head-quarters and Old
Guard reached Liadi in safety. Mortier and Davout followed but, hotly
pressed by Miloradovich and Golitzin, lost heavily. The Dutch Guards
were nearly destroyed; several of the regiments of the Young Guard were
cut up. Nevertheless, Mortier's troops and three of Davout's divisions
succeeded in getting away to Liadi, but Friederichs' division, fiercely
pressed in the rear, was assailed on the west of the town by Tormazov's
vanguard, under General Rosen, and nearly destroyed. The 33rd Léger was
all but exterminated, only 25 men remaining unwounded.

Ney had defended Smolensk until the morning of the 17th. On the 15th
the 4th Regiment gallantly repulsed an attempt of Choglokov's Division
to press the evacuation of the northern suburb. Early on the 17th
the force left for Krasnoï. Nothing was known of what was occurring
ahead, and Davout has been severely blamed for neglecting to inform
Ney. It is probable that his messengers were intercepted. Ney had,
including Ricard's division of the 1st Corps, perhaps nearly 9000 men,
but with hardly any cavalry, and only 18 wretchedly horsed guns. He
was also encumbered by a horde of 7000 non-combatants. Five thousand
sick and wounded were left to perish in Smolensk, many being killed
by the explosion of the mines which, in obedience to orders, Ney had
laid beneath the ramparts. The first day's march was unmolested, but
on the 18th Ricard's division, which was in advance, blundered in the
fog against Miloradovich, who was in position behind the Lossmina.
Surprised and outnumbered by six to one the division lost heavily, and
was driven back in disorder along the road to Smolensk. This, however,
might have helped Ney, for Miloradovich believed that Ricard's force
was really the whole 3rd Corps, and was therefore taken by surprise
when Ney, after rallying the remnants of the 2nd Division, came up
towards 3.0 p.m. The Russians, on the advice of Paskievich, formed
line as they stood, a battery of 24 guns being placed across the road.
Ney's force, which looked very formidable through the fog, was much
overestimated, and the promptitude with which the marshal cleared away
some cavalry from a bivouac on his left impressed the Russians. He,
on his side, hoped that he had to deal only with a detachment, though
Miloradovich sent an officer to summon him to surrender, and informed
him that he had the whole Russian army in his front. Ney detained the
officer, shots having been fired during the parley, and ordered the
attack. Razout's division went forward with splendid heroism, entered
the ravine, breasted its further bank under a furious fire, and almost
reached the Russian front when it was crushed by the cannonade and
musketry and driven back in wild disorder by a counter-attack of
Paskievich's division. The Uhlans of the Guard charged the relics of
the 18th Regiment and captured its eagle. General Razout was wounded,
General Lanchantin captured; and only a mere remnant of the gallant
force succeeded in withdrawing under cover of Ledru's division,
which sacrificed itself nobly to cover the retreat. At 4.0 p.m. Ney
retreated, and so impressed had Miloradovich been by the magnificent
audacity of the attack that he made no effective pursuit.

Ney retrograded a short distance on the road to Smolensk, and then
turned to the north. He resolved to cross the Dnieper on the ice and
make his way to Orsha by the right bank. He had the ice on a streamlet
broken to ascertain its direction, and followed its course until the
Dnieper was reached. He made a show of bivouacking at a village, but
left his fires burning, and, guided by a captured peasant, found
a place where the ice on the great river would bear. A thaw was,
however, setting in, and though the fighting men mostly succeeded in
crossing, the ice broke under the first vehicles. Guns, trains, and
wounded were left to their fate on the farther bank; there remained
with Ney about 3000 exhausted and starving foot-soldiers. The only
favourable circumstance was that the cold had ceased. But on the 19th
Platov was upon them with his Cossacks, and all the way to Orsha they
marched in the midst of his squadrons, repeatedly cannonaded by his
sledge-artillery. The details of the daring march are vividly related
by De Fezensac, but in a work such as this there is little space for
them. Ney kept the weary handful of troops together by the sheer
magnetic force of his personality. On nearing Orsha the road was found
to be barred by fires, but the Marshal ordered the charge, and they
were found unguarded, having been lighted in order to terrorise him
into halting. At midnight on the 21st the force reached the Vitebsk
road about 8 miles from Orsha, where a column which Eugène had led
forth to succour it was encountered. So the heroic episode ended. Of
the 3rd Corps and Ricard's division there survived not 1500 armed men.

While Ney was making his way to Orsha by the north bank of the Dnieper,
Napoleon had arrived there on the 19th. Krasnoï, ill-planned and
ill-fought as it was, was Kutuzov's last--or only--serious effort. He
remained in the neighbourhood of the battle-field until the 19th, made
two marches, halted for a day, and then made two easy marches to Kopys
on the Dnieper, south of Orsha. His army was certainly greatly weakened
and fatigued; but he might have achieved much by a persistent and
resolute advance. The result of his practical inaction was that the
small remains of Napoleon's fighting force were able to make their way
to Orsha unmolested by the enemy.

In spite of mismanagement and timidity the fighting round Krasnoï was
fearfully disastrous. The Napoleonic army had lost probably 10,000
men in action. The Russians claimed 26,170 prisoners, but at least
half of these were the disbanded fugitives; over 100 guns were taken
on the field, and 112 more had been abandoned. Baggage had been taken
literally in heaps. As against this the Russians only admitted a loss
of 2000 men; and it is possible that this is not a gross misstatement.


[Footnote 7: Poniatowski had met with an accident, and General
Zayonczek commanded the 5th Corps.]



Napoleon reached Orsha on November 19th, and at once set strenuously to
work to restore order. Stringent orders were given that all stragglers
were to rejoin their respective corps in specified localities. What
effect these orders produced cannot easily be estimated; demoralisation
was so advanced and the mass of disbanded troops so great, that it
appears that little could be done to reform the skeleton units.

Something, however, could be done to rally and refresh the scanty
relics of the fighting force. There were in the town stores sufficient
to supply the troops with food for some days. There were, apparently,
fifty guns, some hundreds of horses, and Eblé's reserve train of sixty
pontoons with all its equipment. Six batteries were organised out of
the artillery, each of six guns. Two went to Davout, who had saved
only eight guns out of 150; two to Eugène, who had not one left; two
were assigned to Latour-Maubourg--for what reason is not very clear.
Mounted cavalry officers were collected into what was called the Sacred
Squadron, under Grouchy. It has been stated that it was destroyed as
soon as created; but it was certainly in existence a week later.

Severe orders were issued to destroy superfluous vehicles, and to hand
over the horses thus freed to the artillery. Generals were restricted
to a single vehicle, and soldiers were forbidden to possess carts or
pack-horses. These orders were largely non-effective; there were not
gendarmes and faithful troops enough to execute them, and too many
people interested in resisting or neglecting them--as the passage of
the Berezina was soon to show.

Reasonable and necessary as it undoubtedly was to diminish the mass
of baggage and assist the artillery, it was surely the height of
imprudence to destroy the bridge-train. Eblé, alive to the danger,
pressed to be allowed to keep fifteen pontoons, but in vain, and
he could only save 2 field forges, 2 waggons of charcoal and 6 of
implements. At Smolensk he had seen to it that each man carried a tool,
and a supply of clamps and large nails. To his wise precautions the
piteous remnants of the _Grande Armée_ were to owe their salvation.
When Napoleon gave the order to burn the pontoons, Chichagov had been
four days in possession of Minsk, and was already close to Borisov with
his advance-guard! Comment is needless.

Victor remained at Chereia until November 10th. Oudinot, who had
now recovered from his wound, resumed the command of the 2nd Corps.
The army at Chereia was thus commanded by two independent generals
who would probably disagree. Victor was the senior officer, but not
definitely the commander-in-chief; and Napoleon in his orders merely
bids him to concert measures with Oudinot. Probably on the 9th, Victor
received an urgent order written by Napoleon at Mikalevka, to take the
offensive and drive back Wittgenstein. He was told that the safety of
the _Grande Armée_ depended upon him. The Emperor admitted that it was
much fatigued and that the cavalry was dismounted. "March!" ordered the
falling giant. "It is the order of the Emperor and of necessity!"

On receipt of this pressing order Victor and Oudinot got under way.
But the army was no longer what it had been a fortnight previously.
The troops appear still to have been well clothed; they had availed
themselves of convoys intended for the Poles. Food does not appear
to have been lacking. But the weather was bitterly cold, the ground
covered with snow, and the numbers were steadily dwindling. It
is probable that the two corps did not muster over 30,000 men on
November 14th. Wittgenstein, exclusive of Vlastov, had as many, and
his position behind the Ula and the Lukomlia was strong. His army was
now distributed in four small corps under Lieutenant-Generals Count
Steingell, Prince Iachvil, Berg, and Major-General Fock.

Oudinot is said by De Chambray to have advocated a direct attack, but
Victor considered it too risky, and it was decided to endeavour to
turn the Russian left. On November 11th, therefore, the French army,
the 9th Corps leading, advanced to Lukoml, about 10 miles south of
Chasniki, and thence moved eastward across the Lukomlia and the Usveia
upon Smoliani, a village lying beyond Wittgenstein's left flank. On
the 13th Partouneaux's division, which formed the advance-guard, found
that of Wittgenstein in position across the road and drove it back
upon Smoliani with heavy loss, including several hundred prisoners.
Wittgenstein, seeing that his left was threatened, changed front in
that direction and sent forward Prince Iachvil to reinforce and rally
the advance-guard. With the rest of his army he took up a position
along the Lukomlia. His line extended for about a mile and a half,
generally in advance of the frozen stream, its front being covered by
three large ponds, beyond which lay Smoliani. Steingell's troops were
on the right and Berg's on the left. Iachvil's would form the centre.
Fock's division was stationed in the bend of the Ula below Chasniki.

On the morning of the 14th Partouneaux's division moved upon Smoliani,
Iachvil retiring steadily before him into the Russian main line.
Partouneaux developed an attack on the village, and easily captured
it, but was checked by the fire of the Russian artillery. Steingell
then sent forward some troops and retook Smoliani. Round this outpost
of the Russian line a brisk conflict lasted through the rest of the
short winter's day. Its possession was, indeed, of slight importance;
and, since the Russians declined to be cowed by the threat of a turning
movement, Victor's bolt was practically shot. Except for an attempted
demonstration by Victor's cavalry on his right, the fighting elsewhere
was confined to a cannonade. The 2nd Corps and the bulk of the Russian
army were not engaged at all. On neither side were the losses heavy.
Victor may have had about 1400 killed and wounded. The Russians claimed
900 prisoners--probably a great exaggeration. Their own losses during
the two days probably totalled 2000.

Victor could now only retreat. He did not know the real state of the
central army, but he did know that his dwindling force was Napoleon's
last reserve. On the 17th the two corps were once more about Chereia.
There they might at least hope to hold back Wittgenstein from the
vitally important high-road.

Wrede, after Polotsk, had, as has been seen, fallen back to cover
Vilna. He retired through Glubokoië to Danilovichi, and was there
reinforced by Coutard's brigade, Lithuanian levies, and various
drafts, until on November 18th he had some 11,000 men. Vlastov, after
the action of Smoliani, had been drawn in by Wittgenstein, and Wrede
reoccupied Glubokoië on the 19th, having previously sent Corbineau to
rejoin Oudinot.

At Riga Essen had been succeeded in the command by Paulucci. The field
force of the garrison was spread out on the left bank of the Düna.
Its line was very extensive, and the troops on the left, under Lewis,
were dangerously exposed. On November 15th, therefore, Macdonald made
an attack upon them with Massenbach's Prussian cavalry division, a
brigade of Prussian infantry and one of Poles. Lewis, cut off and hotly
pressed, only succeeded in escaping by crossing the Düna on the ice.
This sharp lesson made Paulucci cautious, and some weeks passed away in
tranquillity, Macdonald growing more and more uneasy at the bad news
which began to filter through to him, and not at all on good terms with

While Schwarzenberg was following Sacken, Admiral Chichagov pursued
his way to Minsk. The town was full of vast magazines of every kind,
besides thousands of sick and wounded. Yet no attempt had been made
to fortify it, and the force immediately available for its defence
consisted only of two small French battalions, a weak Württemberg
regiment, some depôts, and 4 Lithuanian battalions and 4 squadrons
newly raised and untrustworthy. Instead of keeping his troops united
near Minsk and Borisov, Bronikowski formed a field force under General
Kossecki, which he sent forward on the road to Slonim. Dombrowski,
hearing of Chichagov's advance, hastened to collect his division, but
it was so scattered in his effort to fulfil his multitudinous duties
that it could not arrive in time.

Having once made up his mind to ignore Schwarzenberg and push on to
Minsk, the Admiral wasted no time. He sent off Colonel Chernishev with
a regiment of Cossacks to explain the situation to Wittgenstein, and
on November 9th started Lambert and Sabaniev for Minsk. In defence
of his slowness hitherto it must be said that, besides the menace
of Schwarzenberg in his rear, he was much pestered by orders from
Kutuzov, which were usually too old to be applicable to the situation.
He was directed to entrench himself on the Berezina, and he had only
a single competent engineer officer. He was ordered to reinforce the
garrison of Kiev, lest Napoleon should follow the example of Charles
XII and move southward! To further weaken his army was madness, but
Chichagov diverted some drafts to Kiev, and held on for Minsk, Lambert
leading, Sabaniev and Voïnov following, and Chaplitz bringing up the
rear. At Nesvizh, on the 12th, General Lüders joined. On the 13th
Kossecki's column was found by Lambert holding the bridge over the
Niemen at Novi-Svergen. Kossecki had only 4 Lithuanian battalions
and a solitary gun. He had vainly represented to Bronikowski the
strength of the advancing enemy, and begged permission to retire.
Lambert easily carried the bridge, capturing the gun and about 1000
prisoners. Kossecki fell back towards Minsk, and on the way was
reinforced by a small battalion of the French 46th, 300 French cavalry,
150 Württembergers and 2 guns. On the 15th he was overtaken by Lambert
at Koidanow, 18 miles from Minsk, and, after a running fight of
several miles, his force was destroyed, only the remnant of the French
cavalry, which had fought splendidly, reaching Minsk. The consequences
were fatal. Dombrowski was still over 20 miles distant with his
advance-guard; not 1500 troops remained in Minsk and Borisov; and
Lambert was already half-way from Koidanow. Dombrowski, who had himself
hurried on in advance of his troops, saw nothing for it but to abandon
Minsk. Next day Bronikowski, with about 1000 men, retreated on Borisov,
while Dombrowski turned his troops back to Berezino, hoping thence to
reach Borisov before the Russians. Minsk was occupied by Lambert in the
afternoon, and there he found no less than 2,000,000 rations of food
and 4700 sick and wounded. The hospitals were found to be in a shocking

Chichagov's whole army was in Minsk by the 18th, and a halt was made
to rough-shoe the horses and rest the men. Ertel should have been at
hand with his corps; but on pretext of sickness he was still at Mazyr,
and only a detachment of 6 battalions, 4 squadrons and a Cossack
regiment had been sent forward to Igumen. Chichagov at once despatched
Major-General Tuchkov II to supersede him.

On the 19th the Admiral started Lambert for Borisov and Chaplitz for
Zembin. Next day Sabaniev marched in the track of Lambert, and Voïnov
after Chaplitz. Chichagov accompanied Voïnov, while Langeron was with
Sabaniev. A small garrison was left in Minsk, and the Cossack Colonel
Lukovkin sent towards Igumen to observe Dombrowski.

Bronikowski had at Borisov and Vseselovo less than 2000 men. Dombrowski
reached Borisov at midnight on the 20th, bringing with him 6 battalions
and 6 squadrons of his division; his other infantry regiment and 2
squadrons were still behind. Arriving in the dark he bivouacked on
the left bank. A French battalion occupied the _tête du pont_, the
7th Württembergers Borisov; the rest of Bronikowski's force was at
Veselovo, several miles higher up the river opposite Zembin.

Lambert had with him 5 infantry regiments, 28 squadrons and some
Cossacks--about 8000 men and 36 guns. Against him Dombrowski could
bring less than 5000 in all, with, apparently, 34 guns.

Lambert attacked the bridge-head early on the 21st. The French
battalion was driven out, but the Württembergers hurried up from the
rear, repulsed the Russians, and gave Dombrowski time to arrive. Again
and again Lambert assaulted the works in vain; and the fight raged
obstinately well into the afternoon, the 1st and 6th Polish regiments,
with their French and German comrades, resisting with magnificent
courage. Lambert himself was dangerously wounded. Towards evening,
however, the 14th Chasseurs succeeded in turning the works on the right
by slipping through a gully, while the bulk of Lambert's division again
assailed them in front. They were finally carried, and the adventurous
14th pressed on so impetuously that they passed the bridge with the
flying foe and saved it from destruction. The remains of Dombrowski's
force were hurled through the town in utter confusion, despite their
desperate attempts to rally, and pursued by the Russian cavalry towards
Lochnitza, on the road to Orsha. Langeron arrived with his leading
troops towards the close of the action, and in the evening was joined
by Chichagov and Voïnov.

On the Russian side more than 1500 men were killed and wounded,
General Engelhart being among the former and Lambert among the latter.
Dombrowski's force lost over 3000 men killed, wounded, and prisoners.
Twenty-four guns were taken by the victors.[8] Dombrowski's rear-guard
regiment was attacked on the march by Colonel Lukovkin, and severely
mauled before it could recover from the surprise and beat off the

The position of Napoleon now appeared desperate. Seventy thousand
men, inspirited by success, were preparing to bar his retreat to
the frontier; Minsk and Vitebsk with their magazines, Borisov with
its all-important bridge, had passed into the enemy's hands, and
Schwarzenberg, with the one powerful force that remained at Napoleon's
disposal, had been drawn far away to the south-west. The Emperor had
with him about Orsha only some 25,000 demoralised men, surrounded by a
helpless mob of 40,000 non-combatants of both sexes, the majority in
the last stages of misery and despair. He had scarcely any effective
cavalry, and not more than 110 badly horsed guns, while to his left
rear was a pursuing army three times his strength. So must the position
of the defeated conqueror have presented itself to his dismayed
followers. It now remains to review the circumstances which rendered
it, terrible as it undoubtedly was, somewhat less critical than it
might have been.

After Krasnoï, Kutuzov had practically abandoned the pursuit. The
condition of his army was very serious; the number of men in the ranks
was diminishing daily, while the horses were rapidly breaking down
under the effects of hard marching, little forage, and constantly
remaining saddled. Buturlin states that the loss by fatigue and
hardship since October 24th already amounted to 30,000 men.

In direct pursuit of Napoleon, Kutuzov sent forward the various flying
columns and Cossack detachments, and a special force under Yermólov,
consisting of the Chasseurs of the Guard, six battalions of Dokhturov's
corps, 2 regiments of Cossacks and 12 guns. The united force of these
detachments may be estimated at 20,000 men and 40 guns. The vanguard
of Miloradovich, which was to follow in support, totalled also about
20,000 men. A regiment of Chasseurs had been left to garrison Smolensk.
With the rest of the army Kutuzov marched slowly to Kopys, which he
reached on the 24th, Miloradovich being about two marches farther
on, and Yermólov and Platov were in advance of the vanguard. Kutuzov
left the guns of 12 batteries at Kopys, using their men and horses to
complete weakened units, and detailed to escort them the remains of
the light cavalry of the Guard. On the 26th he left Kopys with a force
reduced now to about 40,000 men and 200 guns. Napoleon was already at
the Berezina, and for all practical purposes the Russian Grand Army
was off the board at the decisive moment. What was worse, though his
information was naturally out of date, Kutuzov still endeavoured to
control the operations of Chichagov and Wittgenstein.

Chichagov on the Berezina was in a state of great uncertainty. His
army was not now more than 33,000 strong, and his 10,000 cavalry were
almost useless on the wooded and marshy banks of the river. He was
without information of the main armies later than the evacuation of
Moscow. On the evening of the 21st the Comte de Rochechouart, one of
the Admiral's French _émigré_ staff-officers, found among Bronikowski's
half-burnt papers a despatch from Victor, stating that Napoleon would
probably reach Borisov on the 23rd. The news must have been something
of a shock to Chichagov, since he naturally expected to be attacked by
greatly superior numbers. His conduct at this juncture has been sharply
criticised, yet one does not well see what else he could have done.
He moved forward the advance-guard, now commanded by Major-General
Pahlen II, towards Lochnitza, on the Orsha road, to give warning of any
hostile advance, established his head-quarters in Borisov, and kept the
bulk of his force on the right bank of the river. His errors appear
to have been that he allowed too much of his baggage trains to cross,
and permitted a large detachment of his cavalry to disperse to forage;
the latter step may, however, have been necessary. The point is that
Chichagov was ignorant of the deplorable condition of the Moscow army,
and rather expecting to be himself attacked.

Wittgenstein, on his side, possessed very scanty information about the
general state of affairs, and his staff estimated Napoleon's strength
as at least 60,000. The result was that his movements were extremely
slow and circumspect.

In other words, while the destruction of the remnant of Napoleon's
forces was inevitable if all his adversaries showed energy, it was
already becoming apparent that this would not be the case, and that he
would have an opportunity of escaping.

Napoleon learned of the fall of Minsk while on the march to Orsha, and
despatched orders to Oudinot to march to Borisov to secure the passage.
On the 20th Victor was directed to cover the march on Borisov, which he
was to reach on the 26th.

Oudinot was timed to arrive on the 24th, and since he had only about
50 miles to march, the Emperor did not imagine the position to be
desperate. Oudinot, perhaps more alive to it, reached Borisov on the
23rd. On the 22nd he was rejoined by Corbineau, who, after a skirmish
with Chernishev's Cossacks, found himself cut off from Borisov by
Chichagov's army, and was guided by a peasant to a ford at Studianka,
about 8 miles higher up.

Napoleon, with the Guard and head-quarters, left Orsha on the 20th and
arrived on the 22nd at Tolochin. There were in the place considerable
stores, and Napoleon halted for 24 hours. There he was joined by Ney
with the relics of his command, Davout now resuming rear-guard duty.
Platov occupied Orsha on the afternoon of the 21st. He captured 21
abandoned guns, some stores, a mass of trains, and thousands of sick
and wounded, all of whom perished. The Russians had not the means of
succouring them, even had they possessed the will to do so.

Junot and Zayonczek, with the remains of the 5th and 8th Corps and
the dismounted cavalry, were in advance; then came the Guard and
head-quarters, Ney, Eugène and Davout. Davout may have had remaining
about 6000 men, Eugène perhaps 3000, Ney 1500, Junot and Zayonczek
possibly each 1000; to the former were attached about 1000 dismounted
horsemen. The Guard may have been 9000 infantry and artillery and
1500 cavalry strong. A few hundred only of the line cavalry still
retained horses. It was with the greatest difficulty that the fighting
troops could force their way through the helpless horde of stragglers
and disarmed fugitives which covered the road. The armed soldiers
themselves presented a miserable spectacle. A mournful silence reigned
in the shattered ranks; the men plodded along mechanically, huddling
themselves in their rags; little was heard save the shuffling of feet
in the snow and slush. Vaudoncourt records his feelings of horror when
he met the advance-guard and saw the dismounted Cuirassiers, ragged,
bare-footed, emaciated, wretched beyond belief, dragging themselves
painfully along the roads.

An incident typical of the absolute callousness to which misery had
reduced everyone is related by Lejeune, who had succeeded Romoeuf as
Davout's chief-of-staff. At Krupki, near Borisov, Davout's staff found
two babies in the house occupied by them. Lejeune begged the Marshal's
steward to try and give them a little broth. None was forthcoming,
and the steward at last, distressed by the continued wailing of the
little creatures, drowned them! Wilson, too, tells how the Grand Duke
Constantine, out of sheer humanity, as he declared, "put out of his
misery" a stripped and perishing French officer.



Russian peasants brought in prisoners by French Chasseurs-à-cheval

From the picture by Verestchagin]

On the 22nd Napoleon heard from Oudinot that Chichagov had captured
Borisov and that he himself was on the way to retake it. The Emperor
replied in a somewhat incoherent letter, instructing him to seize
a point of passage, and interspersing orders and intelligence with
agitated appeals to the Marshal's energy and devotion. The last were
not needed. Oudinot's intellectual capacity was not great, but his
devotion was undoubted, and he never served Napoleon so well as in the
terrible days that followed.

Oudinot on the 23rd picked up Dombrowski and the remains of his force.
He placed the remains of his cavalry at the head of the advance, with
Legrand's division in support; and in the afternoon fell upon Pahlen
near Lochnitza. The Russians were taken entirely by surprise, largely
apparently because of their leader's negligence, and, veterans as they
were, broke and fled headlong. They poured in mad panic into Borisov
just as Chichagov and his staff were dining. Everybody seems to have
lost his head, and the place was abandoned in haste and complete
disorder. All the baggage which had crossed the river was left behind
as the prey of the 2nd Corps--much to its benefit. Voïnov hurried up
4 battalions, which occupied the houses near the bridge, and enabled
the panic-stricken mob to crowd across in safety. The bridge was then
broken, and despite their really brilliant success the passage of the
river was closed to the French. The Russians had lost in their panic
flight about 1000 men in all and a quantity of baggage, including the
Admiral's camp service and portfolio; but no guns were lost--probably
rather owing to good fortune than good management. Langeron sneers
bitterly at his chief, but the fault was obviously that of Pahlen and
his advance-guard, who should not have permitted themselves to be
surprised by a small force of cavalry.

On November 23rd Napoleon with his leading troops reached Bobr, a
town of 300 houses, about 35 miles from Borisov. Victor was falling
back towards the road from Chereia, and on this day Billard's brigade
of Partouneaux's division had a sharp encounter with Wittgenstein's
advance-guard under Vlastov. Billard was driven back with considerable
loss, which was, however, much exaggerated by the Russians, though a
battalion of the 126th Regiment was completely destroyed. Wittgenstein
might have done much more, but he was very circumspect and timid,
and Clausewitz hints that he was not greatly disposed to co-operate
cordially with Chichagov. The latter expected him to unite with his
own army behind the river, according to the Tzar's directions; and so
also did Napoleon, who ordered Victor to endeavour to bar his march
on Zembin. The Marshal could not obey, for he was already too far
south, having acted upon previous instructions given when Napoleon
was still uncertain as to the point at which he should cross the
Berezina. Otherwise Napoleon till the last dangerously underestimated
Wittgenstein's strength, and wrote as if Victor could easily defeat him.

At Bobr Napoleon received the crushing news of the failure to save the
bridge of Borisov. All now depended upon the bridging of the river.
Eblé, with his pontonniers and his inestimable convoy of implements,
was ordered forward, while General Chasseloup was directed also to the
Berezina with all the sappers and artificers who could be collected,
but they were without forges and almost destitute of ordinary hand
tools. Stringent orders were given to destroy superfluous vehicles and
hand over their horses to the artillery. Needless to say, they were
generally evaded. Davout was directed to hold firm as long as possible
in order to give the miserable mob of non-combatants time to escape. It
would have been better had the humane order never been issued. Most of
the non-combatants were doomed, and the lives of devoted officers and
soldiers were wasted in protecting them. At Bobr d'Alorna rejoined with
the garrison of Mohilev. His 1500 men and the remains of the 5th Corps
and Claparède's division were united to the relics of the 3rd Corps,
thus giving Ney a force of about 6000 men and 30 guns.

Oudinot also, on the banks of the Berezina, was doing his best. He was,
as usual with Napoleon's generals, timid of responsibility; but having
made up his mind he acted with excellent judgment. Having obtained,
despite all difficulties, information as to the points of passage, he,
about midday on the 24th, selected Studianka, and directed thither his
small, ill-trained, and ill-equipped force of artificers. He informed
Napoleon frankly of the difficulty of his task; the enemy were keenly
watching the course of the river. To distract Chichagov he made
demonstrations above and below Borisov, and noted that the Russians
seemed inclined to expect the French advance rather below than above.
Napoleon, after a conference with Generals Dode and Jomini, who knew
the course of the river, also decided to force a passage above Borisov,
and indicated the ford at Veselovo, 15 miles above that town. When the
order arrived, however, the Marshal had already selected Studianka.

The frost, which had ceased since the 18th, was now setting in again.
On the one hand, the slightly alleviated misery in the army now again
began to increase. On the other, it hardened the low, marshy banks
of the Berezina and enabled the French to transport their artillery
and trains. Opposite to Studianka, about a mile from the right bank,
ran the Borisov-Zembin road, by which the army must defile in order
to gain the Minsk-Vilna highway at Molodechno. Behind Studianka the
ground rose, and artillery could be placed in position to command the
low opposite bank. Studianka itself was a fair-sized village, and its
houses afforded timber useful for the construction of bridges.

We must now turn to Chichagov, who has been made by Russians the
scapegoat for the escape of Napoleon. In the first place, he believed
that Napoleon had 70,000 or 80,000 men against his 32,000. Next, he
had been informed by Wittgenstein that Napoleon was, in his opinion,
retreating in the direction of Bobruisk. The Admiral was confirmed
in this by intelligence that Austrian cavalry scouts were on the
Minsk-Bobruisk road. Chichagov's dispositions in these circumstances
were perfectly sound. Chaplitz, who had been watching the upper
Berezina for some time, remained near Brelova, nearly opposite
Studianka; while Voïnov and Sabaniev, with Pahlen's rallied force, were
concentrated round Borisov, ready to act in force in any direction.

On the 25th he received a despatch from Kutuzov. It was not a direct
order, but, coming from the commander-in-chief, it naturally had great
weight with the Admiral. It suggested that Napoleon would probably move
southward towards Bobruisk to cross the lower Berezina. At the same
time, Major-General O'Rourke and Colonel Lukovkin reported that they
had found Polish troops lower down (these were Dombrowski's belated

Chichagov, assuming that Kutuzov had good reason for sending his
despatch, and considering the intelligence sent by his detachment
commanders, concluded that Napoleon's rumoured southern movement was
a reality; and, on the 25th, leaving Pahlen at Borisov, and ordering
Chaplitz to draw in to him, he marched off with Voïnov and Sabaniev to
Chabachevichi, some 15 miles down the Berezina. Langeron says that both
he and Sabaniev endeavoured to dissuade him--Sabaniev apparently losing
his temper. Chichagov, however, persisted, and considering everything
it is difficult to see what else he could have done, misled as he
was by bad information from every side. On the 25th Napoleon himself
reached Borisov, and was seen by Langeron and his staff, much to their
consternation, as the only force at hand to oppose him was Pahlen's
weakened advance-guard. The French Guards were in Borisov; the rest
of the Moscow remnant between Borisov and Krupki, two marches to the
rear. Oudinot was at Studianka; Victor rather to the north of Davout
at Krupki, in order to cover him against Victor. Davout since Orsha
had been only harassed by Cossacks. The bulk of Wittgenstein's slowly
advancing force was at Kolopenichi, 27 miles north-east of Borisov:
Platov was east of Krupki, and Yermólov at Maliavka, near Bobr.

General Aubry, Oudinot's chief of artillery, began to fell trees and
construct trestles for bridges immediately upon arriving at Studianka,
but unfortunately they proved too weak. As soon as it was dark Oudinot
started his artillery for the selected point of passage, and as night
drew its veil over the dreary banks of the Berezina, Generals Eblé
and Chasseloup reached Studianka with their men and their slender
equipment, and began in earnest to construct bridges. All night they
laboured to prepare the supports, and at 8 a.m. on the 26th the first
trestle was fixed in position. It had been hoped to throw three
bridges, but there were scarce enough materials for two. Chasseloup
soon saw that the hopeless deficiency of equipment of his engineers
would prevent him from doing anything independently; he therefore
brought his men to help Eblé, the engineers working at the preparation
of trestles and floors while the pontonniers fixed them.

The fate of the relics of the _Grande Armée_ now rested, humanly
speaking, in the hands of a prematurely aged and physically broken man
of fifty-five years of age, who had never, under Napoleon, received
employment equal to his merits. The name of Jean Baptiste Eblé is one
to be uttered with all honour and reverence as that of a man who,
besides being a master of his profession, was in very truth a hero,
upright, modest, self-sacrificing, and literally faithful unto death.
One seeks not for purity or an exalted standard of duty among the rough
and greedy fighters about Napoleon. Exceptions there were, but they
were comparatively few; and so one turns with peculiar respect towards
the simple, gracious figure of Eblé.

Early on the 26th Eblé verified the width and depth of the river. The
latter had increased, owing to a freshet, since Corbineau's crossing
from 3-1/2 feet to 5.

Besides pushing on the preparations for the bridges, the engineers
constructed three small rafts, by which some 400 infantry were ferried
over to guard the bridge-head, accompanied by some of Corbineau's
troopers, who forded the river with foot soldiers behind them.

The cold was bitter; the water was already freezing; and the
pontonniers would have to work in it up to their shoulders. The ordeal
meant certain death to almost all; but the men answered the call of
their chief with a heroism as high as his own. They were relieved every
15 minutes and were promised special rewards, but five-sixths of them
perished. There were 7 companies in all, about 400 men, of whom 100
were Dutch.

The bridges were placed 200 yards apart. Each had 23 sets of trestles
(_chevalets_). That on the right was intended only for troops. It was
terribly weak. Suitable wood for the roadway was lacking, but the
engineers patched up one of planks nailed one upon another, and laid
brushwood and twigs upon it to lessen the strain. The roadway was in
places nearly level with the water; there were no rails. The left-hand
bridge was intended for artillery and baggage. It was more solid than
the other; but still very weak, and as there was no time to square them
the roadway was constructed of rough logs, the passage over which of
vehicles occasioned continued joltings which impaired the stability of
the frail structure.


Commander of the Bridge Trains of the Grand Army in 1812]

Napoleon himself, with his Head-quarters and Guard, reached Studianka
early on the 26th. He came to the head of the bridges and there
remained until they were completed, personally supervising the
construction. In the intervals when he could do nothing he sat on a
pile of logs on the bank, gloomily gazing upon the slowly progressing
structures on which his last hopes rested. More than once he asked
Eblé to hurry. The General pointed to his devoted pontonniers working
themselves to death in the icy stream, and the Emperor could say no
more. What he could do to relieve them he apparently did, sometimes
helping with his own hands to serve them out brandy.

The artillery of the Guard and of the 2nd Corps was massed behind
Studianka ready to open fire as soon as the Russians should show
themselves. But Chaplitz was already withdrawing through the woods to
Borisov; only a weak rear-guard with 2 light guns remained opposite
the village. Chaplitz's worst fault was to neglect to destroy the long
wooden bridges on which the Zembin road crossed the marshes. He was
a brave and a good officer, but on this occasion failed much in the
performance of his duty.

At 1 p.m. the right-hand bridge was completed, and at once Napoleon
gave the order to Oudinot's corps to cross. With the addition of
Dombrowski's Poles it appears to have been nearly 11,000 strong. Some
of its regiments were reduced to mere skeletons; but others were still
relatively strong. They were generally well clothed and in good order,
and their still unbroken spirit appeared in the lately unaccustomed
cheers with which they hailed Napoleon as they defiled past him. The
Swiss regiments were especially solid and eager. Only 2 guns were
taken across for fear of injuring the bridge. The advance-guard easily
cleared away Chaplitz's feeble rear-guard, and moved forward on the
Borisov road until it found Chaplitz, reinforced by Pahlen, in position
across its path. Reconnaissances despatched to Zembin found the
Vilna road clear, and the Emperor decided to give up any intention of
reaching Minsk and to move upon Vilna.

The heavier bridge was ready at 4 p.m., and the artillery of the Guard
and Oudinot's corps began to pass. At 8 p.m. three sets of trestles
gave way. Half the pontonniers were called upon and, worn out with
desperate toil and sunk in sleep as they were, they answered Eblé's
call. By 11 p.m. the breakage was repaired, and the rest of the
artillery, the remains of the reserve park, and Ney's corps began to

At 2 a.m. on the 27th the bridge broke in the centre; three sets of
trestles were destroyed. The second half of the pontonniers were called
upon. Eblé himself chose good sound wood and superintended the making
of new ones, while the heroic pontonniers sacrificed themselves as
nobly as before. At 6 a.m. the damage was repaired and the passage
proceeded. The bridge broke again at 4 p.m., two trestles giving way.
It was repaired by 6 p.m.

The supports of the troop bridge held firm, but the weak roadway was
continually breaking, and the devoted engineers were at work upon it
with little intermission. It was so frail and swayed so badly that it
is remarkable that it did not collapse.

Napoleon, with the Head-quarters and the Guard (less Claparède),
crossed about 1 p.m. on the 27th. As yet no very great number of the
non-combatants had arrived, and they were mostly employees of the army
who crossed with their corps. The disbanded mob was flocking into
Borisov ahead of Eugène and Davout. It was amenable to no control,
and, as aforesaid, Napoleon's order to the rear-guard to hold back was
little likely to save it from destruction.

Chichagov, on reaching Chabachevichi, sent patrols across the river
which failed to locate the enemy, and the Admiral became aware that he
had been misled. He once more turned his troops towards Borisov, which
they re-entered on the evening of the 26th. He directed Langeron to do
what he could to reinforce Chaplitz, adding that he was coming up with
all speed. Everybody, according to the bitter Langeron, was cursing
"this miserable sailor." They, however, did not know the circumstances,
and might have cursed the high and well-born Prince Golénischev-Kutuzov
with better reason. Langeron took forward Pahlen's infantry to
reinforce Chaplitz; he says--certainly with exaggeration--that there
were only 1200 of them. Voïnov's and Sabaniev's troops, after a 30
miles march in frost and snow, were in no condition for battle, and the
Army of the Danube had to remain at rest on the 27th. Without wishing
entirely to absolve Chichagov, it appears to the writer that the chief
blame must be laid upon Kutuzov, who lagged behind and sent misleading
intelligence. Blame also attaches to Chaplitz for his negligence
at Zembin. Yet it must be observed that he probably expected, with
the rest of Chichagov's officers, that Napoleon would retreat upon
Minsk, and therefore drew in the detachment, which might otherwise
have been cut off. Chichagov cannot be blamed for resting during the
27th. Borisov was full of French, who might attempt to force a passage
there. They were mostly non-combatants, but this could not of course be
ascertained with certainty. For the rest his troops were weary.

Wittgenstein was probably more blameworthy than the much abused
Admiral. His pursuit of Victor was unenergetic; despite his double
superiority of numbers, he made no attempt to press. He was in fear
that Napoleon would turn his own right flank and retreat by Lepel to
Vilna; and this was in fact one of the Emperor's alternative plans.
He moved so cautiously that on the 25th his advance-guard did not
touch the rear-guard of Victor, who fell back unmolested towards the
high-road at Borisov. Reconnaissances made it clear that Napoleon
was not moving past the Russian right and Wittgenstein advanced to
Kostritza, only 8 miles from Borisov and about 10 east of Studianka.
Victor reached Borisov in safety; and Eugène and Davout moved on to
Studianka, where they arrived at dusk on the 27th. Victor's move,
however, had evil effects; his troops came upon the line of march
of the unhappy fugitives from Moscow, and the awful condition of
the latter spread demoralisation in the ranks of the 9th Corps. The
2nd Corps had already come in contact with the woeful relics of the
Guard and Ney's corps, and their morale was affected. At Kostritza
Wittgenstein learned that the French were at Studianka, but instead
of marching thither he directed part of his troops on the 27th on
Borisov, part on Staroï Borisov, some miles above the former place.
Platov was in touch with Wittgenstein, and Yermólov was on the march
to Borisov. There were thus, of Russian troops, on the Berezina the
army of Chichagov, 32,000 strong with 180 guns, that of Wittgenstein at
least 31,000, and Yermólov's and Platov's columns, say 12,000 men and
30 guns, in all 75,000.

As against this large and eager, if partly irregular, force Napoleon
is said by De Chambray to have had barely 31,000 men. This figure is
certainly too low. De Fezensac believes that he had 50,000 men; and on
the whole it is possible that the total number of combatants was about
47,000. It was composed as follows: Guard (less Claparède) 8500, Ney
about 5000, Davout 3000, Eugène 2000, Junot 1500 (including dismounted
cavalry), Oudinot 11,000 (including Dombrowski), Victor 13,500,
Head-quarters 2500. The last item is usually ignored by historians.
There were between 250 and 300 guns, and perhaps 5500 effective
cavalry, of whom 1500 belonged to the Guard and Head-quarters. But of
these troops nearly a third were so worn down by hardship as to be
hardly capable of making any great effort.

Eugène and Davout on reaching Studianka crossed in the night, the
bitter cold of which went far to achieve the destruction of their few
remaining troops. Even Oudinot's troops, still in comparatively good
condition, suffered greatly in their wretched bivouacs in the woods
of Stakhov. Behind the 1st and 4th Corps the horde of non-combatants
came pouring down to the bridges. The road from Borisov to Studianka
was choked with their throngs. Every age and sex was represented in
the helpless mass; and there was to be seen human misery in its most
hideous aspects. Even more harrowing than the misery and hideous aspect
of the fugitives was their utter apathy and helplessness. The crowd
heaved itself sluggishly along the tracks in whatever direction it
chanced to take or was pushed by moving troops. Most of the wretches
who composed it seem to have lost their senses no less than their
appearance as more or less civilised human beings. The instincts
of comradeship and humanity were almost extinct, and progress was
constantly retarded by the brawling and fighting for places in the
column of the mass of degraded savages which once had been Napoleon's
_Grande Armée_.

Snow fell heavily during the night upon the unfortunates huddled
shelterless among the woods and marshes. The non-combatants on
reaching Studianka would go no further, despite the efforts of Eblé
and Chasseloup to induce some of them to cross. Napoleon had issued
orders that the passage was to be kept up day and night, but they
probably could not be, at any rate were not, executed. The luckless
people continued to stream down towards Studianka until the bank for
miles was covered with them, and apathetically bivouacked as best they
could among their vehicles. Very few appear to have attempted to cross;
those who did probably created blockages and disorder, being amenable
to no kind of control. The pontonniers and engineers were too few and
too weary to enforce order in such a mass. More might have been done
had Napoleon personally exerted himself to supervise the passage;
unfortunately after the 27th he did nothing.

Victor's corps on the 26th became the rear-guard, Davout and Eugène
passing in advance with the scanty relics of their troops. Victor
left Borisov for Studianka on the 27th. The Baden brigade of Dändel's
division marched first and crossed the bridges soon after Napoleon.
Victor himself with the rest of Dändel's troops, Gérard's Poles and
Saxons, and the artillery made his way out of Borisov towards midday,
while Partouneaux's division with 4 guns and Delaître's cavalry
brigade formed the rear-guard. It was to remain at Borisov until dark.
Platov was marching upon Borisov; behind him came Wittgenstein with
Steingell's and Berg's troops. Yermólov was behind. Vlastov's division
was marching upon Staroï Borisov and Fock's reserve on the way to

The road from Borisov to Studianka was choked with non-combatants, sick
and wounded barely capable of dragging themselves along, straggling
soldiers, disbanded skulkers, fugitives from Moscow, camp-followers,
men, women and children, huddled in a helpless mass, all streaming
mechanically to Studianka with the last of the organised fighting
men. Vlastov's division coming into the road at Staroï Borisov about
3 a.m., cut the line of retreat and the rearward portions of the mob
fled back towards Borisov, whence Partouneaux moved out to fight his
way through. His division was now only 4000 strong. Delaître had about
500 Saxon and Berg horsemen. Two tracks led from Borisov to Studianka,
dividing a short distance west of the town. That to the left skirted
the bank, but it was full of stragglers, and Partouneaux, believing
that the right-hand one would take him directly to Studianka, struck
into it. This movement brought him right against Vlastov's division.
After a most gallant attempt to fight their way through the French were
forced to give way. Partouneaux and Billard were taken prisoners with
the poor remains of the latter's brigade, and the remaining three fell
back towards Borisov, to find it occupied by Wittgenstein. They passed
a fearful night in the snow, without food, fire, or shelter. Next day
almost all the wounded and weaker men were dead, and the benumbed and
starving survivors could only surrender. A single battalion, about 160
strong, which had luckily taken the left-hand track, reached Studianka.
The French loss was over 4000 men, including 500 cavalry and 4 guns.

In the evening of the 27th Yermólov entered Borisov. As soon as the
French left the town Chichagov repaired the bridge with pontoons, and
direct communication being thus established, a general attack was
concerted for next day. Wittgenstein was to complete the destruction
of Victor's corps, while Chichagov, supported by Yermólov and Platov,
pressed Ney and Oudinot, and endeavoured to throw them back upon Zembin.

The whole country was partially wooded except on the marshy banks of
the Berezina, and in places the woods became very thick. On the western
bank, about 3 miles south of Studianka and nearly half-way between the
villages of Brilova and Bolshoï Stakhov, stood Ney and Oudinot. Their
front was about a mile long, Ney's force being on the left, resting
on the river, Oudinot on the right, supported upon a dense wood. Guns
could not be brought into action on either side except on the road,
where 8 pieces, equally divided between the two armies and continually
replaced, fought each other all day. In reserve behind Ney and Oudinot
stood the Guard.

At 8 a.m. Chaplitz and Pahlen began an attack on the 2nd Corps with 7
regiments of Chasseurs, and soon a furious conflict raged in the woods.
At first the attack made headway, and the French and Swiss soldiers,
who had passed a wretched night, began to give ground. When the roar
of firing swelled up all the disbanded men took to flight, disordering
and carrying away the reserves, while Oudinot was disabled by a wound.
Ney, always at the point of danger, rushed to take his place, rallied
the 2nd Corps and, calling up some of his own troops in support,
checked Chaplitz's advance and began to drive him back upon Stakhov.
Some hundreds of prisoners were taken. Sabaniev, who was moving up to
support Chaplitz, stayed Ney's advance, but was suddenly charged in
the most gallant fashion by Doumerc's Cuirassiers. They burst from the
woods upon Cherbatov's division, broke through its skirmishing line,
and charged its squares with desperate courage. Some 2000 Russians were
sabred and captured. The Cuirassiers were of course nearly destroyed,
but their splendid behaviour saved the army for the moment. Chichagov
sent forward Voïnov to sustain Sabaniev, but though nearly twice as
numerous the Russians could make no headway. The French losses were
fearful. General Zayonczek, who had defended Praga against Suvorov
in 1794, had his leg shattered; Legrand, Rapp, Amey, Dombrowski, and
Kniaziewicz were also wounded. Half the survivors of the 2nd Corps were
killed or disabled; but at night their shattered ranks still held their
own, and if courage and devotion could have saved the _Grande Armée_,
that end would have been achieved.

Meanwhile on the left bank Victor's corps, with equal heroism but
less success, had been contending with Wittgenstein. Most of Victor's
artillery and the Baden brigade were already across, but Napoleon now
sent back the latter, adding to them apparently the Baden battalion at
Head-quarters. The bridges were so blocked that the artillery could not
return. Victor took up a position nearly perpendicular to the river,
just south of Studianka, on some rising ground partially wooded. On the
right, close to the river, there was a thick clump of wood. This was
defended by the Badeners. Next on the left stood the Berg brigade when
it arrived in line, then Gérard's 3 Polish regiments, with Löw's Saxon
brigade beyond them. On the extreme left stood General Fournier with
his two remaining cavalry regiments (Baden and Hesse). Victor had under
his hand only 15 guns, and his entire strength was not more than 8000
infantry and 500 cavalry (according to his own account only 7400). The
Berg brigade had moved forward to endeavour to rescue Partouneaux.

[Illustration: Passage of the BEREZINA

Positions at Midday

Nov. 28, 1812.]

Wittgenstein left Steingell at Borisov to disarm the prisoners; the
rest of his army was directed upon Studianka. Vlastov drove back the
Berg troops into the main line of the 9th Corps; but was then checked,
though a battery established by Diebich made terrible havoc among the
wild crowd which was surging around the entrance to the bridges. All
the non-combatants, when the balls began to fall among them, crowded
to the river marge in utter confusion and there remained, huddled in
a mass more than 200 yards deep and extending for three-quarters of a
mile. The panic was fearful, and the horrors that took place in the
crowd will never be known. Men fought their way ahead by any and every
means, and drove their vehicles remorselessly through the press. Men,
women, and children were murdered, trodden down, and forced helplessly
into the river, while all the while the Russian cannon-balls were
falling with the snow. Many of those who reached the bridges were
thrust off them and drowned or crushed beneath the wheels of vehicles.
Many committed suicide to avoid a worse fate: there is at least one
well-authenticated case of a mother who, herself mortally wounded,
killed her child before she died. Yet carriages of Napoleon's staff
and of the Generals of the Guard were laden with helpless women and
children whom their protectors made every effort to save. Marshal
Bessières and General Laborde in particular earned by their humanity
laurels fairer than any which they had gained upon the field of battle.


The Baden Brigade crossing the upper bridge during the night of the
28-29th of November, 1812

From the painting by J.A. Nikutowski at Carlsruhe]

General Berg's first division quickly supported Vlastov. The Badeners
on the right were driven back; but Napoleon at once took the
Russians in flank by establishing a battery on the other side of the
river. The Badeners reoccupied their position and held it all day
against incessant assaults--at grievous cost to themselves. Further
to the left Victor's Polish troops executed a fierce counter-attack,
and were on the point of piercing the Russian centre when Fock arrived
with his division and restored the conflict. Victor's men were now
hopelessly outnumbered, but they fought on with magnificent tenacity
until nightfall. An attempt to turn the left was checked by a gallant
charge of Fournier's troopers and repulsed by the Saxons and a Polish
regiment. Berg's second division, owing to some misunderstanding, did
not arrive until the action was over. Victor's left was thrown back,
but he still covered the bridges.

At 9 p.m. Victor received orders to cross, and began to withdraw. All
round the bridges huddled the living mass of human beings and animals,
heaving sluggishly with convulsive movements to escape, but practically
inert. The eastern outlets were blocked by a hideous heap of broken
vehicles and dead or dying human beings and horses piled one upon
another in the trampled and blood-stained snow, through which it was
impossible to make way. Eblé and his engineers literally had to make
a cutting through the horrible heap and pile up the corpses on each
side to keep back the unhappy mob. Through this ghastly passage, and
along others like it made for them by the pioneers, the weary remains
of the German and Polish regiments defiled, but even so they often had
to fight their way. It was not until 1 a.m. on the 29th that they were
at last across. Victor and Eblé vainly endeavoured to persuade some
of the mob to follow, but most of them were torpid with misery and
hopelessness and would not move. At dawn on the 29th a small detachment
of the 9th Corps which had remained to the last was withdrawn. Eblé's
orders were to fire the bridges at 8 a.m., but he waited until 8.30,
hoping to save some more lives. A few of the non-combatants followed
Victor's rear-guard, but the passages were soon blocked. At 8.30 Eblé
fired the bridges, and there was a last scene of horror. Many of the
unhappy wretches, at last alive to the situation, strove to dash
through the flames, others endeavoured to cross on the thin ice between
the bridges, many threw themselves into the icy stream to wade or swim.
It is useless as well as painful to dwell longer upon the tragedy, the
details of which may be gathered from countless works. Perhaps no event
in history has ever so completely united in itself every element of

The loss of life at the passage of the Berezina will never be exactly
known. The _Grand Armée_ lost 1200 officers killed and wounded, which
may perhaps indicate a total of all ranks of 12,000 to 15,000. The 2nd
and 9th Corps lost half their effective strength. Including prisoners
and deaths from cold and misery during the three days the army was
probably diminished by from 20,000 to 25,000 men. Enormous quantities
of baggage were lost, but few guns--the Russians claimed 23. The loss
of life among the non-combatants must have been enormous; almost all
who were captured died of hunger or cold; their captors had little to
spare them, and if the Russian regular soldiers often behaved with
kindliness, the wilder Cossacks stripped their captives of everything.
Perhaps the most awful incident was the fate of 500 women who were
huddled in a barn at Borisov, without food for several days, and almost
without fires. Only some 20 survived.

There is reason to believe that the Russian armies lost at the Berezina
not less than 10,000 killed, wounded, and prisoners. Langeron says that
Chichagov alone lost 7000. Of the 1500 prisoners many died of want
before the survivors were retaken by the Russians.

It cannot be said that Napoleon showed to any advantage at the
Berezina. The selection of the point of passage was due to the skill
and energy of Oudinot; the credit for the splendid resistance on the
28th is to be attributed to Ney and Victor; while the true heroes of
the episode were General Eblé and his pontonniers. Eblé died of his
hardships a month later, and of his devoted 400 not 40 ever saw their
homes again.


[Footnote 8: Langeron.]

[Footnote 9: Iachvil's advance-guard was apparently distributed.]



The passage of the Berezina practically put an end to the existence as
an organised body of the remains of the _Grande Armée_. Of the 45,000
or 47,000 combatants whom Napoleon had near Studianka on the 26th,
there probably remained on the 29th little more than 25,000, a total
which rapidly diminished through slaughter, fatigue, famine, despair
and, above all, the steadily increasing cold. The 2nd and 9th Corps had
sacrificed themselves heroically to cover the passage, but the double
ordeal of battle and hasty retreat was too heavy for them to bear,
and they began to disband like the rest of the army. They had already
been reduced to a mere handful. In a report on the evening of the 30th
Victor stated that he had only 60 mounted horsemen left. He believed
that he still had 4000 infantry--the surviving half, as he explained,
of the 2 divisions which had fought so gallantly on the 28th--but on
calling the roll he found that they had already dwindled to 3300.

While the battles of the 28th were raging the corps of Davout and
Eugène had defiled on Zembin. The effects of the neglect of Chaplitz to
break down the long wooden bridges over the marshes were now apparent;
the marshes were hardly as yet solid enough to bear vehicles, and had
the bridges been destroyed nothing could have passed. Before daylight
on the 29th Napoleon started with the Guard, followed by Victor and
Ney, but the passage over the long narrow bridges was so slow that at
10 p.m. Ney was only at Zembin, 7 or 8 miles from Studianka. With him
were Eblé and the remnant of his pontonniers, and when the last troops
had passed they fired and blew up sections of the bridges to check the
pursuit of the Russians.

On November 26th Kutuzov, who was then at Staroselie, 12 miles west of
Kopis, seems to have awakened to the probability that Napoleon would
escape. At any rate, he suddenly acted with convulsive energy, and
during the next 2 days the _Corps de Bataille_ marched 42 miles. The
effort, of course, exhausted it, and on the 29th it could only cover
11. In any case it was too late. Napoleon himself was already safe,
and, though only followed by a remnant of his once mighty host, was
able and willing to give endless trouble to Europe.

Miloradovich reached Borisov on the 28th, too late to take part in
the battles. Wittgenstein was retarded by the necessity of bridging
the Berezina at Studianka, for which purpose he had to avail himself
of Chichagov's pontoons from Borisov. He directed Kutuzov II, who had
just joined him, to pursue Wrede towards Vilna, and Orlov-Denisov,
reinforced by some cavalry and mounted infantry, to follow Napoleon.
Chichagov pushed forward Chaplitz, and prepared himself to follow with
the bulk of his army.

For the relics of the _Grande Armée_ there was now, as De Chambray
says, no resource but in hasty flight. Wrede, after reoccupying
Glubokoië, had moved southward to Dokchitsi, and was directed to cover
the right flank of the retreating army; but his force, at first about
10,000 strong, rapidly dwindled from the ravages of cold and hardships,
and the steady harassing of Kutuzov II. To expect that he could check
Wittgenstein, who crossed the Berezina on the 31st, and began to pursue
by roads roughly parallel to the main highway, was hopeless.

The country between the Berezina and Vilna had not been completely
wasted; the towns still existed; there were small garrisons and
magazines in some of them. But the increasing cold rapidly shattered
every semblance of organisation. It rapidly became so fearful that
all energy was absorbed in fighting it and endeavouring to preserve
existence. The number of men actually with the colours dwindled fast.
On December 1st Ney sent the eagles of the 3rd Corps with their guards
and the regimental officers to take refuge with the head-quarters and
the few thousand troops who still marched with it. When he had sent
them off there remained to escort him only a company of 100 fighting
men! The others, under General Ledru, tramped doggedly on for two days
and three nights, only halting for necessary rest, and joined the
head-quarters at Molodechno.


From the painting by Yvon]

The flight to Vilna contains little of military interest. It was
a mere rout of the most pitifully helpless condition, the mass of
fugitives trailing mechanically along the road, followed, surrounded,
and massacred by the Cossacks, while Chichagov's army and Yermólov's
division marched steadily in the rear, ready to overwhelm any solid
resistance that might be made. But, in truth, little could be offered.
On November 29th Lanskoi's cavalry detachment seized Plechenitzi on the
French line of retreat, nearly capturing the wounded Marshal Oudinot,
whose staff heroically defended the house in which he lay. Chaplitz
crossed the Zembin marshes by strengthening the ice with planks and
brushwood, followed up the French rear-guard, and captured 7 guns
and hundreds of stragglers. On the next four days there were further
rear-guard actions, all much alike and all resulting in loss of guns
and prisoners to the unhappy French, whose misery and demoralisation
prevented them from responding to the splendid example still set them
by their heroic leader. The hopeless condition of affairs may be gauged
by the fact that on December 2nd there remained hardly 13,000 men
with the colours (De Chambray says only 8800). With the head-quarters
there were still perhaps 6000 or 7000; Ney had about 2500[10];
Victor perhaps as many; while the 1st, 4th, and 8th Army Corps and the
cavalry could not muster 1000 armed men between them. There was still a
considerable number of armed officers, but they fell sick or broke down
daily. Disorganisation was complete. Disbanded men who had hitherto
kept their weapons now threw them away. Forage could be procured; and
food in quantity sufficient to support life was not lacking. But rest
was now more necessary even than food, and it was impossible to obtain
it. The bulk of the men were already broken by misery and fatigue,
and were forced to continue their weary march amid a cold which grew
ever more severe. On December 3rd it became intense; on the 5th the
thermometer fell to 20° below zero (Réaumur); on the 6th to 24°; on the
7th to 26°; and it is said to have fallen still lower later on. Its
severity struck even men like Löwenstern, accustomed to the winters of
the Baltic provinces.

At Vilna Napoleon might expect his last powerful
reinforcement--Loison's division of the 11th Corps, which reached
the Lithuanian capital in the last week of November with two cavalry
regiments of D'Estrée's Neapolitan division in Danzig. There were
besides in Vilna 6000 or 7000 troops of all kinds--_régiments de
marche_ and Polish and Lithuanian levies. Maret, with the best
intentions but disastrous results, ordered Loison's division forward to
Ochmiana to take position and cover the retreat of the relics of the
army into Vilna. It was composed of young French and German recruits,
and three or four days of the cruel weather nearly destroyed it. How
many men actually died and how many disbanded cannot be ascertained; it
is only certain that on December 7th there remained in the ranks less
than 3000 men!

At Molodechno on the 3rd, just as the cold was becoming deadly,
Napoleon, who already contemplated leaving the army, issued practically
his last direct orders. The remains of the Polish divisions were sent
off south-west towards Warsaw, which they eventually reached in safety
with such guns as they had preserved. Here Napoleon received the
first posts which had reached him for several days, the others having
presumably been intercepted by the Cossacks. Here also he composed and
sent off the 29th Bulletin. It is so well known that little reference
to it is necessary. It is, however, to be observed that it is as
grossly mendacious as any of the Napoleonic series; and the Emperor's
total lack of appreciation of the often heroic conduct of his troops
throws a very disagreeable light upon his character. Certainly no one,
reading its paragraphs, would conclude that the campaign had been an
annihilating catastrophe. Every post brought shoals of letters to
Maret, enquiring about the food supplies at Vilna, furiously attacking
the Poles for not supporting him, and his own agents for not having
urged them to do so! One most remarkable question is as to whether
Vilna and Kovno are fortified. Surely Napoleon should have given
orders on this point. The fact seems to be that at first he had been
over-confident of success, and later had overlooked the necessity
of protecting his bases--witness the case of Minsk. On the 29th of
November he had ordered the minister to clear all the diplomatic body
away from Vilna, lest they should be witnesses of the awful state of
the army.

On December 3rd, Victor--much against his will--relieved Ney of
rear-guard duty. He was weary of the war, and desired chiefly to save
the relics of his corps. The result was a quarrel between the two
marshals. The survivors of the 9th Corps succeeded in holding off
Chaplitz in an engagement on the 4th, but next day Victor reported that
it was completely used up, and could not receive the lightest attack.
He hurried on to Smorgoni with the few hundred frost-bitten men who
remained to him.

Napoleon himself reached Smorgoni at 8 a.m. on the 5th. There he called
to his presence Murat, Eugène, Berthier, Davout, Ney, Lefebvre, Mortier
and Bessières, and announced to them his intention of proceeding
forthwith to Paris. There can be no doubt that this was his wisest
course of action. His presence at the capital was imperatively
necessary to direct new levies, and to sustain public spirit. The army
practically existed no longer, and could gain nothing by his remaining
with it; finally, any longer delay might render it impossible for him
to reach his own frontier across Germany.

Murat, by virtue of his rank, succeeded to a command which was merely
nominal. It was no doubt wise to leave all the corps commanders with
the army, since the circumstance might impose upon the Russians; but
otherwise it was a measure of doubtful utility. Ney, the hardest
fighter of them all, and apparently the only one who persistently held
firm to his duty, was on bad terms with Davout and Victor, and Davout
and Murat quarrelled whenever they met. As it was, there being hardly
anything to command, their squabbles counted for less than they might
otherwise have done.

Napoleon left in his carriage at 7 p.m., accompanied by Caulaincourt.
Duroc and Lobau followed in a sledge; and on the box of the carriage
were the Mameluke Rustan and Captain Wasowicz of the Polish Lancers of
the Guard, who acted as interpreter. Believing the road to be clear, he
was escorted only by a small detachment of Neapolitan cavalry--and thus
the mighty conqueror stole away from the scene of his ruin, leaving the
survivors of his gigantic host to the climate and the arms of Russia.

As a fact, he had a very narrow escape from capture, since Seslavin
that day made a dash at Ochmiana. Loison's division, however, or what
remained of it, had reached the town just before; Seslavin was driven
out, and bivouacked for the night a little way to the south, so that
the Emperor arrived in safety. At Medniki, the next stage, he met
Maret, who had come out to meet him. The minister informed him of the
enormous magazines which had gradually collected in Vilna. Presumably,
as De Chambray suggests, Maret's returns under this heading had failed
to reach the Emperor, for he expressed his great relief, and directed
Maret to tell Murat to halt for eight days in the city, in order to
restore the physique and morale of the army. He arrived at Vilna on the
6th, leaving again, after a brief halt, for Warsaw. There, on the 10th
he had the interview with De Pradt which the latter has so graphically
described. He started again in a few hours _via_ Dresden for Paris,
which he reached on the 18th.

At Vilna, indeed, there were 4,000,000 rations of biscuit and flour
and 3,600,000 of meat, besides an immense quantity of grain; 27,000
spare muskets, 30,000 pairs of boots, and great stores of clothing and
equipment. But little of this was destined to be of use to the unhappy
victims of Napoleon's overweening ambition. The scenes on the road
between Vilna and the Berezina would pass all belief were there not
trustworthy witnesses, both French and Russian, to bear testimony to
them. The road and its borders were strewn with dead men and horses
and abandoned guns and vehicles, often broken and half-burned, the
fugitives having endeavoured to utilise them as fuel. Along this way of
sorrow trailed an endless stream of human beings of both sexes, falling
at every step to mingle with the corpses upon which they trampled.
Those who fell were quickly stripped of their wretched rags by the
passers-by--themselves doomed to the same fate before long. To dwell
upon the horrors which marked every mile of the flight is useless. They
may be gathered from countless works composed by eyewitnesses. The
sense of humanity had been in many cases extinguished, and there are
well-attested incidents of cannibalism. Langeron vouches for having
seen bodies from which the flesh had been hacked. The intense cold
produced insanity; men took refuge in heated ovens and were roasted
to death, or sprang into the fires. To be taken prisoner brought no
alleviation of the lot of the hapless fugitives. The Cossacks usually
stripped them; often, too, the Russians, exasperated at the destruction
of Moscow and the ravages of the invaders, gave no quarter even to
those who surrendered. Besides, they could do nothing to provide
for them even had they the will. Prisoners died, as before, by the
roadside, stripped, famished, frozen; at Vilna they were packed into
buildings where pestilence raged amid cold, filth, and lack of proper

On towards Vilna, to which they looked forward as a haven of rest, the
wretched horde streamed. The Cossacks hung about the route, dashed
at will into the huddled mass, mixed with the crowd, and killed and
plundered with deadly dexterity. Around the head-quarters still moved
a considerable but steadily diminishing body of fighting men, but
discipline had vanished, and even the Guard marched in confusion, and
paid little heed to orders. Here and there among the piteous crowd that
followed were to be found groups of armed officers and men, often sick
and worn out, but retaining spirit to sell their lives dearly when
attacked, but these were few. Even the rear-guard was not an organised
body--merely a band of desperate warriors held together, usually, by
the personal influence of the one Marshal of France who returned from
Russia with added renown.

On the heels of the French rear-guard marched Chaplitz's division,
attacking at every opportunity, picking up abandoned guns and vehicles
mile by mile and disarming prisoners, who were then left to live or
die as they might. After Chaplitz, always between a piteous double
stream of "prisoners" whom it could neither care for nor guard, tramped
the Army of the Danube, everyone from the Admiral downwards marching
on foot to escape frost-bite, and carefully taking every precaution
against it. Sometimes the road was so choked with dead that the
dismounted cavalry in the advance had to clear it before the guns and
trains could be got forward. Langeron says that, despite the weather,
fatal cases of frost-bite were almost unknown among these veterans of
the Turkish War.

It is distressing, amid the stories of the universal misery and
destitution, to read of the waggon-loads of luxuries belonging to
Napoleon, Murat and other generals which were taken by the Russians.
There is a grim humour in learning that the uncouth captors often took
perfumes for spirits and liqueurs, and ate pomade in mistake for butter!

Victor on reaching Ochmiana found, instead of Loison's strong division,
3000 or 4000 half-frozen recruits who would waste away entirely in a
couple of days. He continued his retreat in all haste, followed and
harassed by Chaplitz and Platov, who picked up prisoners by thousands
and cannon by scores. On the 9th, a little way short of Vilna, Wrede
arrived. His force had dwindled from cold, dispersion, and losses in
skirmishing to a remnant of less than 3000 men, but he still possessed
several guns. Murat and the head-quarters had reached Vilna on the 8th;
but as early as the 6th bands of ragged and destitute fugitives had
begun to enter the city to the consternation of the inhabitants. Even
in Murat's column there was panic and disorder, which was only checked
for a while by the Chasseurs of the Old Guard, who held together
in the mob and prevented a mad rush. But when they had entered the
crush became terrible, and order impossible. The gates were choked
and, amongst others, Davout and his staff could only enter by a gap
in a wall. The fugitives poured through the streets seeking for food
and shelter--often vainly, for the horrified inhabitants barricaded
themselves in their houses--and when they could not obtain it, dropped
down to die. The Jewish tradesmen sold food to the helpless wretches
literally for its weight in gold; but when the city was evacuated,
unless all accounts lie, they murdered and robbed them wholesale.

To stay in Vilna, even for a few days, was impossible. Seslavin and
his Cossacks actually entered the city on the 9th, but were, of
course, obliged to retreat almost immediately. But the action showed
the absolute recklessness of the Russians, and the French army was
destitute of power to resist. So many of the men dispersed in the city
that on the 10th only 6000 or 7000 at most were under arms. A large
part of the fugitives never left Vilna again. Many were worn out by
sickness and fatigue, and having once lain down to rest had not power
to rise. Many died through drinking spirits, in the hope of resisting
the cold. Many more were frost-bitten, and sudden warmth added to
neglect produced gangrene. Nearly 20,000 helpless creatures were left,
mostly to perish, in the city when the remainder pursued their way to
the Niemen. No news as to the actual state of affairs had been allowed
to reach Vilna, and the consequence was that no preparations had been
made for the reception of the army. Murat simply lost his head; at the
first sound of the cannon at the advance posts he left the palace in
which he had established himself and hurried to the Kovno gate to be
ready to escape. Berthier issued hasty orders to destroy the arms and
ammunition in the arsenal. Eblé, whose noble life was almost spent,
and who had set the crown upon his reputation by his unfailing heroism
and self-sacrifice during the last stages of the retreat, was charged
with this melancholy duty, Lariboissière being even nearer his end.
Directions were given to issue food and clothes to everybody abundantly
and without attention to forms. Orders were sent to Schwarzenberg to
withdraw to Bielostok, while Macdonald was instructed to retreat to
Tilsit. The hopeless task of holding back the Russians was thrown upon
the shoulders of Ney.

Wrede with his frozen and disorganised remnant was driven in upon Vilna
by Platov on the 9th. The Cossacks were already all round the town
skirmishing with the defenders. Apart from the destruction wrought
by the cold the latter suffered considerable loss. The Lithuanian
Tartar Squadrons, destined to form part of the Guard, were completely
annihilated. In the night Murat evacuated Vilna, and next day Ney
abandoned it, the Cossacks following him through the streets.

A few miles from Vilna the road to Kovno leads over a steep hill.
The remains of the army trains and those from Vilna, which were
following the army, found themselves blocked at the foot of the
icebound slope, up which the horses were utterly unable to drag them.
The last remaining guns and most of the waggons had to be abandoned.
The army pay-chests, containing 10,000,000 francs, were abandoned and
partly pillaged by the soldiers. Only Napoleon's private treasure and
carriages, and a very small proportion of the trains, were by desperate
exertions preserved, 20 horses being necessary to drag a single vehicle
up the hill. In the midst of the disorder and pillage the Cossacks
arrived. Platov opened on the crowd with his light guns, but his wild
horsemen for the most part fell upon the spoil and apparently disdained
to take prisoners. The disaster was due to sheer lack of management,
since the Novi Troki road, which was level and little longer, turned
the hill to the south, and might easily have been used for the retreat.


It was taken to Moscow and afterwards captured on the field of Waterloo

Photographed for this work at the Royal Artillery Museum, Woolwich]

It was as hopeless to attempt to hold firm at Kovno as at Vilna. There
were 42 guns in the town, partly those of Loison's division, which
had been left there, great magazines of food and clothing, and about
2,500,000 francs in cash. There was a feeble _tête du pont_, but the
Niemen was frozen and could be crossed anywhere on the ice. On the
12th the main body poured into the town--about 20,000 men, mostly
in the last stage of misery and despair and nearly all disarmed. The
Guard mustered 1600 bayonets and sabres. Ney, who had been fighting
with Platov all the way from Vilna, reached the town in the evening;
with the garrison troops added to the relics of the rear-guard he had
not 2000 men. Efforts were made to distribute the stores and re-arm the
disbanded troops, but the men threw away the muskets. The magazines
were pillaged, the miserable wretches naturally fastening upon the
spirit stores. Men drunken and dying lay in heaps in the snow-covered
streets. Most of the benumbed fugitives lacked even the sense to avail
themselves of the ice on the river; they crowded mechanically over the
bridge, fighting for precedence, stifling and trampling each other
down, as at the Berezina and Vilna. Murat placed some guns in battery
on the left bank of the Niemen, and left for Königsberg on the 13th,
while Ney and the rear-guard occupied the town, which they held until
dark. Platov sent across a detachment on the ice, which captured the
guns on the left bank and barred Ney's retreat. His men were largely
huddling in the houses; he had only a few hundred armed soldiers. He
turned down the left bank of the river and then diverged to the left
across the Pelwiski forest, eventually making his way by Gumbinnen to
Königsberg. He abandoned in the forest Loison's 16 guns, almost the
last artillery that the army retained.

The Russians did not immediately cross the political frontier, and
bitterly as the Prussian peasantry hated the French they did not
actively ill-treat them. Many isolated fugitives were disarmed, but
their misery was such as to melt even hearts steeled by hatred and
the memory of recent oppression. De Fezensac says that the happiness
of being fed and lodged prevented them from noticing the hostility of
the people. The bulk of the mob of fugitives reached Königsberg by the
20th, and thence cantonments were spread along the Vistula. On that
day the infantry of the Guard counted about 2500 officers and men, of
whom 1000 were sick. The 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Corps mustered between
them on January 10th, 1813, some 13,000 men sound and sick, of whom
2500 were officers. As to the condition of the army, nearly all the
troops were disarmed and had to be furnished with new muskets from the
vast magazines at Danzig. On December 23rd Eblé, now in chief command
of the artillery, reported that of all the vast train which had entered
Russia with the Central Army there remained but 9 guns and howitzers,
and 5 caissons!

Two days before Lariboissière had died, and on December 30th Eblé
also passed away. Colonel Pion des Loches, a man who rarely has a
good word to say for his superiors, expresses himself thus concerning
them: "Both were victims of their zeal and devotion. Our army lost in
them its pillars and supports ... and what are all our other generals
worth beside them?" As his comrades in arms laid Eblé to rest in the
Roman Catholic cemetery at Königsberg, Napoleon was signing the decree
which created him First Inspector-General of Artillery. Eblé's grave
has vanished, for the cemetery has been destroyed, but his glory far
outshines that of thousands of better known men.

Marshal Kutuzov reached Vilna on December 12th to control the hitherto
independent movements of Chichagov and Wittgenstein. His own troops
were following under Tormazov, but they were so shattered by the long
march from Moscow that their offensive power was for the time at an
end, and they were cantoned about Vilna. Chichagov was to follow to
the Niemen to support Platov and the advance-guards which hung on the
heels of the retreating French. Wittgenstein was ordered to intercept
Macdonald on his expected retreat to the Niemen, while Paulucci was to
press him in rear. Sacken's army, supported by the Mozyr force, now
under Tuchkov II, and a detachment from Bobruisk, was to deal with
Schwarzenberg. The Emperor Alexander reached Vilna on December 22nd,
and at once devoted himself to the task of endeavouring to save the
lives of his captured enemies. The hospitals were choked with the
Russian sick, and the French prisoners, almost all ill and helpless,
were perishing wholesale. Biscuit and bread they received, but there
was no other help for them. Gangrened wounds, frost-bite, and typhus
produced by filth, hunger, and putrefaction, swept them away. In
three weeks 15,000 are said to have died. Alexander and Constantine
made magnificent efforts to cope with the awful mass of human misery.
Reckless of personal danger, they personally superintended the relief
operations; the Grand Duke nearly died of the fever which he caught in
the midst of his labour of humanity. St. Priest was transferred from
the work of collecting the Russian stragglers to that of superintending
the hospitals of the prisoners, for which his French origin especially
fitted him.

Macdonald, before Riga, received his orders to retreat on December
18th, and started next day in two main columns, he himself leading
the way with Grandjean's division, a Prussian infantry brigade, and
Massenbach's cavalry; while Yorck followed a day's march behind the
rest of the Prussians. Wittgenstein himself could hardly intercept
him; but the flying detachments of Kutuzov II and Diebich, thrown
far forward, might hope to impede Macdonald's march. The Marshal on
reaching Koltiniani divided his own column, taking advantage of two
roads thence to Tilsit, and intending to reunite his whole corps at
Tauroggen. Kutuzov II was too weak to intercept him; but Diebich, with
his 1500 cavalry and a few sledge-guns, got between Macdonald and Yorck
on the 25th, and boldly proposed to the latter a conference in order to
prevent useless bloodshed. After some hesitation Yorck at last made up
his mind, and on the 30th concluded the famous convention of Tauroggen,
by which the Prussians were declared neutral. The results were
incalculably important, but belong rather to the history of the German
War of Liberation. The immediate consequence was that the wreck of the
_Grande Armée_ was weakened by 16,000 or 17,000 excellent soldiers and
60 guns.

Macdonald, meanwhile, was pursuing his retreat, and on the 27th
repulsed Vlastov's divisions, which had come up to support Kutuzov II,
capturing some prisoners and a gun. But at Tilsit, on the 31st, he
was deserted by Massenbach and was forced to fall back on Königsberg.
He marched rapidly and steadily, and reached the Prussian capital in
safety. On January 3rd, 1813, his rear-guard, under Bachelu, was driven
through Labiau, after a hard fight, by Wittgenstein's advance-guard
under Chepelev. At Königsberg Macdonald was joined by Heudelet's
division, but Yorck's defection ended all hope of being able to make
a stand on the Pregel, and the retreat was continued to Danzig. When
the blockade of Riga was raised, Paulucci sent Lewis with 8000 men to
pursue Macdonald, and himself with 3000 made a dash for Memel, which
he reached on December 15th, after an amazing march of 200 miles in 8
days. The place immediately surrendered.

While Schwarzenberg had been contending with Sacken, General Kosinski
with his Poles had once more invaded Volhynia, but was repulsed after a
little skirmishing by Musin-Pushkin.

Schwarzenberg, turning from his pursuit of Sacken, reached Slonim again
on December 7th; but on learning of the catastrophe of the _Grande
Armée_ he retreated on the 14th to Bielostok, arriving there on the
18th. Reynier drew back behind the Bug. On the advance of Sacken
and Tuchkov, to assist whom Kutuzov also directed a column under
Miloradovich, Schwarzenberg steadily withdrew, there being nothing but
the most insignificant fighting. The Austrians eventually fell back
into their own territory, while Reynier retreated towards Saxony.
The Polish troops remained in the Vistula fortresses, and were mostly
captured in the following year. The little field army which Poniatowski
was able to collect was allowed to join Napoleon in Saxony, since its
blockade employed too many troops.

Thus in the last days of December the Russian territory had been freed
from the vast host which had threatened to overwhelm it. The immediate
result of the campaign was the all but complete destruction of an army
nearly 700,000 men strong and its immense material. In all it would
appear that, exclusive of Polish stationary troops and local levies
other than those already mentioned, some 674,000 combatants crossed
the Vistula against Russia, of whom about 640,000 actually took part
in military operations. Of these 640,000 there remained as organised
troops at the end of the campaign only the forces of Schwarzenberg and
Macdonald, perhaps 68,000 combatants in all. All the other corps and
divisions were represented by about 25,000 disorganised and generally
disarmed men--largely officers--without cavalry and with scarcely
any artillery. The number of guns which actually entered Russia is
somewhat doubtful, but appears to have been over 1300, exclusive of
the Riga siege train. Of these some 250 can be accounted for as having
returned. The Russians claimed 929 as captured; the rest were no doubt
abandoned and never recovered. More than 200,000 trained horses were
lost; and it was the want of them which, even more than the deficiency
of trained men, ruined Napoleon's chances in 1813. The total chasm
in the Napoleonic ranks was over 550,000 fighting men. As prisoners
the Russians claimed 48 generals, 3000 officers, and 190,000 men, but
it is to be feared that half of them were captured only to die. Even
without making allowance for this, more than 350,000 soldiers must have
perished, besides the tens of thousands of camp-followers, refugees,
and other non-combatants.

The Russian losses are extremely difficult to compute. It is impossible
to work upon the number of men successfully put into the field,
and those remaining active at the close of the campaign, since the
deficiency does not, as in the case of the Napoleonic army, represent
absolute loss. There are reasons for believing that the actual loss of
fighting men was nearly 150,000. The number of non-combatants--largely
peaceful inhabitants of the country--who perished must have been

The ultimate results of the Russian victory were the general uprising
of northern Germany against Napoleon, the adhesion of Austria--after
considerable hesitation--to the anti-Napoleonic coalition, and the
complete overthrow within little more than a year of the empire of
force which he had built in Europe. Britain had long since destroyed
Napoleon's efforts at gaining power on the sea, and had struck heavy
blows at his prestige on land. As the Russian army lay at Tarutino it
was gladdened by the news of Wellington's victories. And the prestige
of Napoleon, shaken in Spain, was now shattered in Russia, and his
material military power so broken that he was never really able again
to face his antagonists on equal terms. It is perhaps true to say that
the enthusiastic uprising of Germany was the chief factor in Napoleon's
downfall in 1813, but it was Russia who gave the impulse and cleared
the way; and her military aid was of vital importance.


FIRST BATTLE OF POLOTSK (August 17th and 18th, 1812)]



                    |Date of |Battalions.|Squadrons.| Infantry |  Cavalry | Total. |Guns.
                    | Muster |           |          | and Foot |and Horse |        |
                    | Roll.  |           |          |Artillery.|Artillery.|        |
 Grand Head-quarters|June 24 |           |          |   3,075  |     908  |  3,983 |  (?)
 1st _Corps d Armée_|  "  "  |    88     |    16    |  68,627  |   3,424  | 72,051 |  150
 2nd   "      "     |  "  "  |    48     |    16    |  34,299  |   2,840  | 37,139 |   92
 3rd   "      "     |  "  "  |    45     |    24    |  35,755  |   3,587  | 39,342 |   86
 4th   "      "     |  "  30 |    54     |    20    |  42,430  |   3,368  | 45,798 |  116
 5th   "      "     |  "  24 |    33     |    20    |  32,159  |   4,152  | 36,311 |   70
 6th   "      "     |July  1 |    28     |    16    |  23,228  |   1,906  | 25,134 |   58
 7th   "      "     |June 24 |    18     |    16    |  15,003  |   2,186  | 17,189 |   50
 8th   "      "     |  "  "  |    18     |    12    |  15,885  |   2,050  | 17,935 |   34
 9th   "      "     |Sept  3 |    43     |    12    |  31,663  |   1,904  | 33,567 |   80
 10th  "      "     |June 24 |    36     |    16    |  30,023  |   2,474  | 32,497 |   84
 Austrian Corps     |  "  "  |    26     |    44    |  26,830  |   7,318  | 34,148 |   60
 Imperial Guard     |Estimate|           |          |          |          |        |
                    |(except |           |          |          |          |        |
                    |Cavalry)|    38     |    28    |  25,000  |   6,279  | 31,279 |  112
 1st Cavalry Corps  |June 24 |    --     |    54    |    --    |  12,077  | 12,077 |   30
 2nd    "      "    |  "  "  |    --     |    52    |    --    |  10,436  | 10,436 |   30
 3rd    "      "    |  "  "  |    --     |    50    |    --    |   9,676  |  9,676 |   30
 4th    "      "    |  "  "  |    --     |    40    |    --    |   7,964  |  7,994 |   24
 32nd Division      |Nov   2 |    18     |    --    |  13,592  |     --   | 13,592 |   20
 34th    "          |Nov  18 |    19     |     6    |  13,290  |     700  | 13,299 |   16
 Engineers,         |        |           |          |          |          |        |
   Artillery        |        |           |          |          |          |        |
   Reserves, etc.   |        |           |          |          |          | 10,000?|  230
                                      Forward       | 410,849  |  83,279  |504,128 |1,372

                                      Forward       | 410,849  |  83,279  |504,128 |1,372
 Absentees who rejoined                                                   | 37,100 |  --
 Lagrange's Division (Drafts)                                             | 13,408 |  --
 Foreign Guard      }                                                     |        |
   Battalions       }                                                     |        |
 Kosinski's Polish  }                                                     |        |
   Brigade          } _circa_                                             | 70,000 |   18
 Austrian Reserve   }                                                     |        |
   Brigade          }                                                     |        |
 2 German Regiments }                                                     |        |
 Drafts of all kinds}                                                     |        |
 In Duchy of Warsaw and on  }                                             |        |
    Vistula                 }                                             |        |
 5 Foreign Guard  Battalions}                                             |        |
 Heudelet's Division        }                                             |        |
  (20 Battalions)           }                                             |        |
 Destrée's Division         }                                             |        |
   (Neapolitans) at Danzig  }                                             | 50,000 |   32
 New Levies, Drafts, etc.   }                                             |        |
 Garrisons on Vistula       }                                             |        |
                                                                           674,636  1,422

It is extremely difficult to compute the numbers of reinforcements,
etc., since a proportion of them consisted of convalescents and
rejoining stragglers.

No allowance is made for the large number of transport drivers and
other non-combatants.



Imp. Guard, Head-quarters, Army Corps 1-10, Austrians, 4 Cavalry Corps,
32nd and 34th Divisions.

                         Battalions.  Squadrons.
 French and New French      239         214
 Poles                       51          69
 Italians                    22          14
 Croats and Dalmatians        7          --
 Spaniards                    4          --
 Portuguese                   6           3
 Swiss                       12          --
 Bavarians                   30          24
 Saxons                      22          32
 Westphalians                22          20
 Württembergers              12          16
 Badeners                     7           2
 Berg Troops                  8           4
 Mecklenburg Troops           3          --
 Hesse-Darmstadt "            6           2
 Small Rheinbund States      11          --
 Austrians                   26          44
 Prussians                   20          24
 Various                      (Mamelukes) 1




                  |    |Squadrons.
                  |    |    |Cossack Regiments.
                  |    |    |  |Batteries.
                  |    |    |  |  |Infantry and Engineers.
                  |    |    |  |  |      |Cavalry.
       Force.     |    |    |  |  |      |      |Cossacks.
                  |    |    |  |  |      |      |     |Artillery.
                  |    |    |  |  |      |      |     |     | Total. |Guns.
 1st Army Corps   | 28 | 16 | 1| 8|17,100| 2,250|  880|1,620| 21,850 | 96
 2nd   "    "     | 24 |  8 |--| 7|14,400| 1,120|  -- |1,340| 16,860 | 84
 3rd   "    "     | 26 |  4 | 1| 7|15,360|   600|  550|1,340| 17,850 | 84
 4th   "    "     | 22 |  8 |--| 6|12,960| 1,120|  -- |1,120| 15,200 | 72
 5th   "    "     | 26 | 20 |--| 6|15,840| 2,880|  -- |1,400| 20,120 | 80
 6th   "    "     | 24 |  8 |--| 7|14,400| 1,120|  -- |1,340| 16,860 | 84
 1st Cavalry Corps|--  | 24 |--| 1| --   | 3,480|  -- |  220|  3,700 | 12
 2nd    "      "  |--  | 24 |--| 1| --   | 3,360|  -- |  220|  3,580 | 12
 3rd    "      "  |--  | 20 |--| 1| --   | 2,800|  -- |  220|  3,020 | 12
 Cossack Corps    |--  | -- |--| 1| --   |  --  |6,160|  220|  6,380 | 12
 Artillery Reserve|--  | -- |--| 3| --   |  --  |  -- |  720|    720 | 36
                                  |95,060|18,730|7,590|9,760|126,140 |584


 7th Army Corps   | 24 |  8 |--| 7|14,650| 1,120| --  |1,340| 17,110 | 84
 8th   "    "     | 22 | 20 |--| 5|12,000| 2,800| --  |1,040| 15,840 | 60
 4th Cavalry Corp | -- | 24 |--| 1|  --  | 3,360| --  |  220|  3,580 | 12
 Cossack Division | -- | -- | 9|--|  --  |  --  |3,960|  220|  4,180 | 12
 27th Infantry    |    |    |  |  |      |      |     |     |        |
   Division       | 12 | -- |--|--| 7,200|  --  | --  |  -- |  7,200 | --
                                  |33,850| 7,280|3,960|2,820| 47,910 |168


                  |    |Squadrons.
                  |    |    |Cossack Regiments.
                  |    |    |  |Batteries.
                  |    |    |  |  |Infantry and Engineers.
                  |    |    |  |  |      |Cavalry.
       Force.     |    |    |  |  |      |      |Cossacks.
                  |    |    |  |  |      |      |     |Artillery.
                  |    |    |  |  |      |      |     |     | Total.|Guns.
 Kamenski's Corps | 17 |  8 |--| 4| 9,970| 1,120|  -- |  780| 11,870|  46
 Markov's    "    | 24 |  8 |--| 7|14,400| 1,120|  -- |1,340| 16,860|  82
 Sacken's Reserve | 12 | 24 |--| 2| 4,000| 2,500|  -- |  440|  5,940|  24
 Lambert's Corps  | -- | 36 |--|--|   -- | 5,040|  -- |  -- |  6,040|  --
 Irregulars       | -- | -- | 9|--|   -- |   -- |3,960|  -- |  3,960|  --
 Reserve Artillery| -- | -- |--| 1|   -- |   -- |  -- |  240|    240|  12
                                  |28,370| 9,780|3,960|2,800| 44,910| 164


 Langeron's       |    |    |  |  |      |      |     |     |       |
   Division       |  12|  8 | 3| 4| 6,000| 1,000|1,000|  700|  8,700|  48
 Essen III's      |    |    |  |  |      |      |     |     |       |
   Division       |  12|  8 | 3| 4| 6,000| 1,000|1,000|  700|  8,700|  48
 Voïnov's         |    |    |  |  |      |      |     |     |       |
   Division       |  11| 12 | 3| 4| 5,500| 1,500|1,000|  700|  8,700|  48
 Bulatov's        |    |    |  |  |      |      |     |     |       |
   Division       |   6| 20 | 1| 4| 3,000| 2,500|  300|  700|  6,500|  48
 Sabaniev's       |    |    |  |  |      |      |     |     |       |
   Division       |   9|  8 | 1| 1| 4,500| 1,000|  300|  200|  6,000|  12
 Lüders'          |    |    |  |  |      |      |     |     |       |
   Division       |   9|  8 | 2| 1| 4,500| 1,000|  600|  150|  6,250|  12
                                  |29,500| 8,000|4,200|3,150| 44,850| 216


 Steingell's Corps|    |    |  |     |   |      |     |     |       |
   and Field      |    |    |  |     |   |      |     |     |       |
   Detachments    | 22 |  6 | 1|4-1/2|-- |  --  |  -- |  -- | 14,000| 54
 Garrison         |    |    |  |     |   |      |     |     |       |
   Detachments    |  4 | -- | 1|  -- |-- |  --  |  -- |  -- |  2,500| 12
                                                            | 16,500| 66


 Depôt, Troops,   |    |    |  |     |   |      |     |     |       |
   etc.           | 87 | 54 |--|  ?  |-- |  --  |  -- |  -- | 35,000|  --


 Detachments      |  8 | -- |--|  2  |-- |  --  |  -- |  -- |  5,000| 24

 Militia, Marines, Recruits, Cossacks, etc.                   90,000
                              Total                          410,310




H.I.M. the Emperor and King Napoleon I.

 Chief of Staff        Marshal Berthier, Prince of Neuchatel
     "    Cavalry      H.M. the King of Naples (Marshal Murat)
     "    Artillery    Général de Division Comte Lariboissière
     "    Engineers       "          "     Comte Chasseloup
     "    Bridge Trains   "          "     Baron Eblé
 Intendant General        "          "     Comte Mathieu Dumas


 Maret, Duke of Bassano                 Minister of Foreign Affairs
 Comte Daru                             Secretary of State
 General Duroc, Duke of Friuli          Grand Marshal of the Palace
    "    Caulaincourt, Duke of Vicenza  Grand Equerry
 Baron Ménéval                          Secretary of the Portfolio
   "   Fain                                 "      "     Archives
   "   Mounier                              "      "     Cabinet
 Colonel Baron de Ponton                    "      "        "
 State-Council Auditor
   Lelorgne d'Ideville                  Chief Interpreter
 Baron Bacler d'Albe                    Director of Topographical


                 General Officer.             Department or Command.
 Général de Division Junot, Duc d'Abrantes     First Aide-de-Camp
    "         "      Lebrun, Duc de Placentia  Aide-de-Camp
    "         "      Mouton, Comte Lobau            "
    "         "      Comte Rapp                     "
    "         "      Comte de Narbonne              "
    "         "      Comte Durosnel                 "
    "         "      Comte Sokolniki           Polish Officer Attached
    "         "      Comte Sanson              Topography and History
    "         "      Baron de Caulaincourt     Grand Head-quarters
    "       Brigade  Comte Bailly de Monthion  Chief of Berthier's Staff
    "         "      Baron Guilleminot         Small Head-quarters
    "         "      Baron Jomini              History
    "         "      Comte Lauer               Gendarmerie

There were in Napoleon's train a large number of General Officers
"disposable." Most of these were appointed to commands later, and
mostly appear in the list of Commandants of districts.


                                          Government of
 General of Division  Comte Hogendorp     Lithuania
    "          "      Baron Durutte       Berlin
    "          "      Comte Dutaillis     Warsaw
    "          "      Comte Charpentier   Vitebsk
    "          "      Gomès Freyre        Glubokoië
    "          "      Marquis d'Alorna    Mohilev
    "          "      Baillet-de-la-Tour  Elbing
 General of Brigade   Castella            Königsberg
    "          "      Corsin              Pillau
    "          "      Plauzonne           Plock
    "          "      Ferrière            Bielostok
    "          "      Tarayre             Kovno
    "          "      Voyezinski          Thorn
    "          "      Wedel               Wilkowiski
    "          "      Brun                Grodno
    "          "      Bronikowski         Minsk

   Corps.              Division.     Division General.
 1st Corps            1st Infantry    Morand
  (Maréchal Davout,   2nd    "        Friant
   Prince d'Eckmühl)  3rd    "        Gudin
                      4th    "        Dessaix
                      5th    "        Compans
                      Cavalry         Girardin (Sept.)
                      Artillery       Baron Pernety

 2nd Corps            6th Infantry    Legrand
  (Maréchal Oudinot   8th    "        Verdier
   Duc de Reggio)     9th    "        Merle
                      Artillery       Dulauloy

 3rd Corps            10th Infantry   Ledru
  (Maréchal Ney, Duc  11th    "       Razout
   d'Elchingen)       25th    "       Prince Royal of Württemberg
                      Artillery       Foucher

 4th Corps            13th Infantry   Delzons
  (His Imperial       14th    "       Broussier
   Highness           15th    "       Pino
   Prince Eugène)     Artillery       Danthouard

 5th Corps            16th Infantry   Zayonczek
  (General Prince     17th    "       Dombrowski
   Poniatowski)       18th    "       Kamienicki
                      Artillery       Pelletier

 6th Corps            19th Infantry   Deroy
  (General Gouvion    20th    "       Wrede

 7th Corps            21st Infantry   Lecoq
  (General Reynier)   22nd    "       De Funck

 8th Corps            23rd Infantry   Tharreau
  (General Vandamne)  24th    "       Ochs
  (later General

 9th Corps            12th Infantry   Partouneaux
  (Maréchal Victor,   26th    "       Dändels
   Duc de Belluno)    28th    "       Gérard

 10th Corps           7th    "       Grandjean
  (Maréchal           Prussians      (1) Grawert
   Macdonald, Duc de                 (2) Yorck
   Taranto)           Cavalry        Massenbach

 11th Corps           30th Infantry   D'Heudelet
  (Maréchal           31st    "       Lagrange
   Augereau, Duc de   32nd    "       Durutte
   Castiglione)       33rd    "       Destrées
                      34th    "       Morand


 The King of Naples.

 Chief of the Staff:
 General Belliard.

 Corps.               Division.          Division General.
 1st Corps            1st Light Cavalry  Bruyère
  (Nansouty)          1st Heavy Cavalry  Saint-Germain
                      5th      "         Valence

 2nd Corps            2nd Light Cavalry  Sebastiani
  (Montbrun)          2nd Heavy Cavalry  Wathier
                      4th      "         Defrance

 3rd Corps            5th Heavy Cavalry  Doumerc
                      6th      "         Lahoussaye
  (Grouchy)           3rd Light Cavalry  Chastel

 4th Corps            4th Light Cavalry  Rozniecki
  (Latour-Maubourg)   7th Heavy    "     Lorge




 Commander-in-Chief     General of Infantry Baron Barclay de Tolly
 Chief of Staff         Major-General Yermólov (July)
 Quartermaster-General  Colonel Baron Toll (July)
 General "of Service"   Colonel Kikin
 Chief of Artillery     Major-General Count Kutaïsov
 Chief of Engineers     Major-General Trusson

  Army |                    |               |  Divisional
 Corps.|    Corps Commander.| Division.     |  Commander.
     I |Lieut.-General Count|               |
       |  Wittgenstein      | 5th Infantry  |Major-Gen. Berg
       |                    |14th   "       |Major-Gen. Sazonov
       |                    | 1st Cavalry   |Major-Gen. Khakovski
    II |Lieut.-General      |               |
       |  Baggohufwudt      | 4th Infantry  |Major-Gen. Prince Eugen
       |                    |               |             of
       |                    |               |             Württemberg
       |                    |17th   "       |Major-Gen. Olsuviev
   III |Lieut.-General      |               |
       |  Tuchkov I         | 3rd   "       |Lieut.-Gen. Konovnitzin
       |                    | 1st Grenadier |Lieut.-Gen. Strogonov
    IV |Lieut.-General Count|               |
       |  Ostermann-Tolstoï |11th Infantry  |Major-Gen. Choglokov
       |                    |23rd    "      |Major-Gen. Bakhmetiev
     V |General H.I.H. Grand|               |
       |  Duke Constantine  |Imperial Guard |
       |                    |     (Infantry)|Lieut.-Gen. Lavrov (July)
       |                    |Combined       |
       |                    |     Grenadiers|
       |                    | 1st Cuirassier|Major-Gen. Depreradovich
    VI |General of Infantry |               |
       |  Dokhturov         | 7th Infantry  |Major-Gen. Kapsevich
       |                    |24th   "       |Major-Gen. Likbachev
       |                    | 1st Cavalry   |
       |                    |        Corps  |Lieut.-Gen. Uvarov
       |                    | 2nd Cavalry   |
       |                    |        Corps  |Lieut.-Gen. Baron Korff
       |                    | 3rd Cavalry   |
       |                    |        Corps  |Major-Gen. Count
       |                    |               |            Pahlen II
 Cos-  |General of Cavalry  |               |
  sacks|   Platov           |               |


 Commander-in-Chief         General of Infantry Prince Bagration
 Chief of Staff             Major-General Count de St. Priest
 Quartermaster-General        "      "    Vistitski II
 General of Service         Colonel Marin
 Chief of Artillery         Major-General Baron Löwenstern
 Chief of Engineers           "      "    Förster

  Army Corps. |     Corps Commander.      |     Division.      |Divisional Commander.
     VII      |Lieut.-General Raievski    |12th Infantry       |Major-General Kolubakin
              |                           |26th   "            |  "      "    Paskievich
     VIII     |Lieut.-General Borozdin I  |2nd Grenadier       |  "      "    Prince Karl of
              |                           |                    |                 Mecklenburg
              |                           |Combined Grenadiers |  "      "    Count Voronzov
              |                           |2nd Cuirassier      |  "      "    Knorring
              |                           |4th Cavalry Corps   |  "      "    Count Sievers
              |                           |27th Infantry       |  "      "    Neverovski
              |                           |Cossacks            |  "      "    Ilovaïski V


 Commander-in-Chief         General of Cavalry Tormazov
 Chief of Staff             Major-General Inzov
 Quartermaster-General        "     "     Renne
 Chief of Artillery           "     "     Sievers

  Army Corps.  |      Corps Commander.       |      Division.       | Divisional Commander.
               |Lieut.-General Count Kamenski| 18th Infantry        |Major-General Cherbatov
               |                             | Combined Grenadiers  |       ?
               |Lieut.-General Markov        | 9th Infantry         |       ?
               |                             | 15th  "              |Major-General Nazimov
 Reserve       |Lieut.-General Sacken        | Reserve Battalion &  |   "      "    Sorokin
               |                             | Squadrons (Skeleton) |
 Cavalry Corps |Major-General Count Lambert  | 4 Brigades           |       ?
               |                             | Irregulars           |       ?


 Commander-in-Chief         Admiral Chichagov
 Chief of Staff             Lieutenant-General Sabaniev
 Quartermaster-General      Major-General Berg
 General of Service           "      "    Tuchkov II

 "Corps"          Divisional Commanders
   I             General of Infantry Count de Langeron
  II             Lieutenant-General Essen III
 III                 "         "    Voïnov
  IV             Major-General Bulatov
 Reserve         Lieutenant-General Sabaniev
 Detachment      Major-General Lüders


Commander-in-Chief: Lieutenant-General Count Steingell

3 Divisions (about half brought to front in September)


 Commander-in-Chief                      Marshal Prince Golénischev-Kutuzov
                                           (Commander--in--Chief of all Russian Armies)
 Chief of Staff                          General of Cavalry Baron Bennigsen
 General of Service                      Lieutenant-General Konovnitzin
 Intendant-General                       Privy-Councillor Lanskoï
 Chief of Artillery                      Major-General Baron Löwenstern
 Quartermaster-General                   Colonel Baron Toll
 Commander of _Corps de Bataille_   General of Cavalry Count Tormazov
 Commander of Advance-Guard              General of Infantry Miloradovich


[Footnote 10: 2nd Corps 500 infantry; Claparède 200; Dombrowski 800;
5th Corps 323. Cavalry about 500. Artillery perhaps 200.]



 Bonnal, Gen. _Le Manoeuvre de Vilna._
 Bertin de la Martinière. _Campagnes de Bonaparte._
 Bertin. _La Campagne de 1812 (Témoins Oculaires)._
 Bourgeois, Dr. René. _Tabléau de la Campagne de 1812._
 Bousset, L.F.J. de. _Mémoires._
 Bignon, Baron. _Souvenirs d'un Diplomat._
 Bourgogne, Sergeant. _Mémoires._
 Bourgoing, Baron de. _Souvenirs Militaires._
 Blaremburg, Lt.-Gen. von. _Erinnerungen._
 Castellane. _Journal du Maréchal de._
 Chambray, Marquis de. _Histoire de l'Expédition de Russie._
    "          "       _La Vérité sur l'incendie de Moscow._
 Chuquet. _Collected Letters, etc._
   "      _Human Voices from the Campaign of 1812._
 Coignet, Le Capitaine. _Mémoires._
 Denriée, Le Baron. _Itinéraire de Napoléon._
 Fantin de Odoards. _Journal du Général._
 Faber du Faur, Major (Württemberg Artillery). _Camp of 1812._
 Fain, Baron. _Précis des Événements de 1812._
 Fabry, Captain (Editor). _Campagne de Russie_ (French Staff History,
 June 23-August 20, 1812).
 Fezensac, Duc de. _Mémoires._
 François, Captain. _Mémoires._
 Girod de l'Ain. _Vie du Général Eblé._
 Grabowski. _Mémoires Militaires._
 Gouvion St. Cyr, Marshal. _Mémoires._
 Gourgaud, Gen. _Examen Critique_ (of Ségur's _History_).
 Griois, Gen. _Mémoires._
 Gardaruel, A. _Relation   1812._
 G.L.D.L. _Moscow ... le retraite de 1812._
 Jomini, Gen. _Précis ... de 1812-14._
 Labaume, E. _Relation complète de la Campagne de 1812._
 Lejeune, Baron. _Mémoires._
 Labeaudorèire, J.P. de. _La Campagne de Russie de 1812._
 Margueron, Commandant. _Campagne de Russie_ (French Staff History,
 January, 1810-January, 1812).
 _Moniteur Universel, Le._
 Maringoné, L.J. Vionnet de. _Fragments de Mémoires._
 Napoléon. _Correspondance, Mémoires, etc._
 Picard. _La Cavalerie dans les Guerres de la République et de l'Empire._
 Pion des Loches, Col. _Mes Campagnes._
 Paixhans, H.J. _Retraite de Moscow._ _Notes._
 Partouneaux, Comte. _Explications._
 Pradt, M. de. _Histoire de l'Ambassade_ (to Warsaw).
 Roguet, Comte. _Mémoires._
 Roos, Ritter H.O.L. von. _With the Grand Army of Napoleon._
 Rapp, Comte. _Mémoires._
 Ségur, Comte de. _Histoire de ... 1812._
 Solignac, Armand de. _La Berezina._
 Seruzier, Col. Baron. _Mémoires Militaires._
 Thirion, A. _Souvenirs Militaires._
 Vlijmen, Gen. van. _Vers la Berezina_ (Documents).
 Vaudoncourt, G. de. _Relation Impartiale de la Passage de la Berezina._
 Zimmerman, G. _Autobiography_ (Commissariat).

There are innumerable volumes of memoirs which deal in part with the
campaign. Some need using with caution--e.g. Marbot's.


 _Archives._ (1) Published by P.J. Schukin.
             (2) Published by Russian War Office.
 Bennigsen, Gen. Baron. _Memoirs._
 Buturlin. _History of War of 1812_ (French Translation).
 Bogdanovich. _History of War of 1812_ (German Translation).
 Chichagov, Admiral. _Mémoires_ (French).
 Clausewitz, Gen. K. von. _Der Feldzug von 1812_ (English Translation).
 Danilevski. _History of War of 1812._
 Eugen von Württemberg. _Memoirs._
 Jensen. _Napoleon's Campaign in Russia_ (Danish).
 Langeron, General. _Mémoires_ (French).
 Löwenstern, Baron. _Mémoires_ (French).
 Okunev, General. _Considerations, etc._ (French).
 Osten-Sacken, Freiherr von der. _Der Feldzug von 1812._
 Rostopchin, Count. _La vérité sur l'incendie de Moscow_ (French).
 Zapiski. _Memoirs of Yermólov._


 Cathcart, Lt.-Gen. Sir George. _Commentaries._
 George, H.B. _Napoleon's Invasion of Russia._
 Porter, Sir R.  _A Narrative._
 Wilson, Sir R., Gen. _Narrative._
 Wolseley, Viscount. _Decline and Fall of Napoleon._

_Note._--The number of works in the French language dealing with the
campaign of 1812 is so enormous that no attempt has been made to give
more than a selection.


 Napoleonic forces indicated by shaded blocks.
 Russian      "          "      solid    "
 Arabic numerals indicate Napoleonic Corps d'Armée.
 Roman numerals indicate Russian Corps d'Armée.
 Napoleonic lines of march indicated by solid lines.
 Russian       "       "         "      broken lines.

The dates are those of the various stages of the French advance or on
which they occupied important points. Each larger block, whether solid
or shaded, indicates approximately 20,000 men.]


 Napoleonic forces indicated by shaded blocks.
 Russian      "           "     solid     "
 Napoleonic lines of march indicated by solid lines.
 Russian      "        "       "        broken lines.

The dates are those of the various stages of the French retreat or on
which they abandoned or lost important places. Each larger block, solid
or shaded, indicates approximately 20,000 men.]



  Aa, River, 171, 172, 173, 294

  Abo, Treaty of, 286

  Achard, Colonel of French 108th, 96

  Adamovskoë, 301, 308

  Alexander I, Tzar of Russia, 1-15, 18, 72, 74, 75-80, 108, 123, 144,
  145, 158, 160, 186-188, 235, 243, 245, 246, 248, 249, 258, 387

  Alexiev, Russian Major-General, 299

  Alorna, Pedro d'Almeida, Marquis d', Portuguese General in French
  Service, 116, 357

  Amey, French Général de Brigade, 302

  Andréossy, General, French Ambassador at Constantinople, 11, 287

  Antopol, 163

  Arakcheiev, Count Alexei Andréievich, 3, 84, 124, 187

  Aubry, Claude Charles, French Général de Brigade, 359

  Augereau, Pierre François Charles, Duc de Castiglione, Marshal of
  France, 261

  Augereau, French Général de Brigade, 325

  Augustowo, 67, 69, 80


  Babinovichi, 102

  Bachelu, French Général de Brigade, 388

  Badajoz, 12

  Baggohufwudt, Karol Feodorovich, Russian Lieut.-General, 69, 74, 78,
  138, 149, 153, 154, 193, 203, 208, 216, 217, 258

  Bagration, Prince Peter Ivanovich, Russian General, 15, 16, 19, 51, 57,
  58, 63, 65-69, 73, 77, 78, 81, 82, 83-86, 93-98, 100, 108, 117-121,
  123-125, 129-158, 145, 146, 156, 157, 158, 192, 193, 194, 201-211,
  246, 247

  Bakhmetiev, Russian Major-General, 102, 104, 215

  Balashov, Alexander Dmitrievich, Russian Lieut.-General, 75

  Balk, Russian Major-General, 305

  Balla, Russian Major-General, 141

  Banco, Italian Colonel, 113

  Baraguay d'Hilliers, Comte, French Général de division, 252, 260, 273,
  315, 325, 332

  Barclay de Tolly, Mikhail Bogdanovich, Baron, Russian General and
  War Minister, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 15, 16, 19, 50, 57, 58, 63, 65-70, 73,
  74, 78-80, 81, 82, 98-107, 108, 117-121, 123-125, 129-158, 169, 187,
  192, 193, 194, 201-219, 226-229, 238, 245, 246, 247, 248

  Baste, French Rear-Admiral, 59, 73

  Battles and Engagements--
    Vilkomirz, 74
    Davigelishki, 80
    Mir, 84, 85
    Romanovo, 86
    Saltanovka, 94-97
    Drissa, 100
    Ostrovno, 102-104
    Vitebsk, 105
    Velizh, 113
    Inkovo, 121
    Krasnoï, 126-128
    Smolensk, 129-143
    Gedeonovo, 147, 148
    Lubino, 148-155
    Kobrin, 162, 163
    Pruzhani, 164
    Gorodeczna, 164-168
    Eckau, 1st, 172
    Schlock, 1st, 172
    Jakubovo, 173, 174
    Oboiarzina, 175, 176
    Svolna, 177
    Polotsk, 177-182
    Slavkovo, 194
    Gridnevo, 197
    Kolotskoï, 197
    Borodino, 197-219
    Mozhaïsk, 222, 223
    Krymskoië, 224
    The Pakhra, 239
    Czerikovo, 239
    Voronovo, 239
    Spaskuplia, 239
    Vinkovo, 255, 259
    Vereia, 1st, 245
    Vereia, 2nd, 272
    Maloyaroslavetz, 274-285
    Kreminskoië, 284
    Biala, 292
    Slonim, 292
    Dahlenkirchen, 293
    Eckau, 2nd, 294, 295
    Sivokhino, 295
    Polotsk, 2nd, 299-305
    Viasma, 315-319
    Dorogobuzh, 324
    Vop, 325, 326
    Solovievo, 327
    Chasniki, 328
    Volkovisk, 329, 330
    Liakhova, 325
    Krasnoï (Battles), 334-343
    Smoliani, 346, 347
    Dahlenkirchen, 2nd, 347
    Novi-Swergen, 348, 349
    Borisov, 350, 351
    Lochnitza, 355
    Berezina, 339-373
    Plechenitzi, 376
    Vilna, 384
    Kovno, 385
    Koltiniani, 388
    Labiau, 388

  Bausk, 171, 294, 295

  Bavaria, Maximilian Joseph, King of, 9

  Bechenkowiczi, 61, 102, 114, 304, 305, 327, 328

  Beguichev, Russian Major-General, 299, 300

  Belliard, Austin Daniel, French Général de Division, 122

  Benkendorff, Alexander, Colonel, Russian, 81

  Bennigsen, Levin August Gottlieb, Baron, Russian General (Hanoverian),
  19, 52, 57, 72, 129, 144, 145, 188, 199, 203, 217, 226-228, 238, 245,
  255, 256, 258, 259, 308

  Berezina, 6, 56, 61, 84, 85, 89, 90, 92, 98, 287, 292, 306, 348-373,
  374, 375, 385

  Berezino, 90, 92, 349

  Berg, Russian Major-General, 173, 175, 178, 182, 299, 300, 346, 366,
  370, 371

  Bernadotte (Crown Prince Karl Johann of Sweden), 13, 286

  Berthier, Alexandre, Prince de Neufchâtel, Marshal of France, 34, 180,
  195, 242, 279, 290, 309, 379, 383

  Bessières, Jean Baptiste, Duc d'Istria, Marshal of France, 38, 238,
  279, 282, 370, 379

  Beurmann, Paris Ernest, French Général de Brigade, 121, 122, 320

  Bezdizh, 161

  Biala, 292

  Bianchi, Austrian Lieut.-General, 165, 166, 168

  Bibikov, Russian Privy Councillor, 305

  Bielostok, 62, 63, 84, 163, 260, 291, 329, 383, 388

  Bielsk, 62, 80

  Bielovezhi, 329, 330

  Billard, 356, 366

  Bobr, 61, 89, 328, 356, 359

  Bobruisk, 6, 61, 62, 84, 85, 90, 91, 92, 93, 108, 122, 159, 160, 262,
  293, 358, 386

  Bogdanovich, quoted, 200, 219, 256, 292

  Boghorodsk, 244

  Bolshoï-Stakhov, 365, 367, 368

  Bonami, 209, 210

  Bordesoulle, Etienne Tardif de Pommereaux, Comte de, French Général
  de Brigade, 89, 90, 98

  Borisov, 6, 61, 89, 90, 189, 260, 306, 348, 353, 355-356, 358, 359,
  361, 364, 365, 366, 367, 372, 375

  Borodino, 57, 196, 197, 198, 199, 200-207, 220, 221, 223, 241, 248,
  249, 310

  Borovsk, 269, 272, 273, 274, 280, 284

  Borozdin I, Mikhail, Russian Lieut.-General, 84, 86, 90, 93, 94, 97,
  136, 137, 203, 205, 209, 216, 279

  Borozdin II, Nikolai Mikhailovich, Russian Major-General, 212

  Bourgogne, Sargent, quoted, 231, 264

  Bug, 59, 108, 161, 163, 291, 388

  Bulatov, Russian Major-General, 287, 289, 330

  Buturlin, Dmitri Petrovich, Count, Russian military author, quoted,
  219, 232, 275, 304

  Bukharest, 11, 168, 287, 289

  Brazhino, 193

  Brest-Litovsk, 19, 59, 62, 63, 84, 159, 161, 162, 291, 292, 306, 329, 330

  Bridzievo, 99

  Brilova, 358, 367

  Bronikowski (Pole), French Governor of Minsk, 260, 348-350, 352

  Broussier, Jean Baptiste, Comte, French Général de Division, 38, 105,
  207, 209, 214, 239, 240, 270, 276, 278, 285, 318, 326

  Bruyère, French Général de Division, 38, 74, 102, 105, 148, 149, 152


  Castex, Bertrand Pierre, French Général de Brigade, 74, 180, 299

  Caulaincourt, Comte Auguste, French Général de Division, 214, 215

  Caulaincourt, Armand Marquis de, Duc de Vicenza, 10, 379

  Cavaignac, French Général de Brigade, 261

  Chabachevichi, 358-362

  Chaplitz, Russian Major-General, 162, 164, 165, 168, 292, 328, 348,
  349, 358, 361, 363, 367, 368, 374, 375, 376, 378, 381, 382

  Chambray, Georges, Marquis de, French soldier and author, 139, 172,
  205, 242, 267, 268, 325, 346, 364, 375, 376, 380

  Charpentier, French Général de Division, 116, 123, 252

  Charrier, French Général de Brigade, 270

  Chasniki, 305, 327, 328

  Chasseloup-Laubat, François, Comte, French Engineer-General, 356, 359

  Chastel, Pierre Louis Aimé, Baron, French Général de Division, 127

  Chelkanovo, 325, 333

  Chepelev, Russian Major-General, 388

  Cherbatov, Alexei Grigorievich, Prince, Russian Major-General, 165-167,
  292, 368

  Cherechev, 164, 165, 166

  Chereia, 328, 345, 347, 356

  Chernishev, Colonel Alexander Ivanovich, 10, 291, 292, 348, 353

  Chernishnia, 239, 240, 244, 258

  Chichagov, Pavel Vasilievich, Russian Admiral, 11, 53, 168, 169, 262,
  286-292, 296, 306, 328, 329, 331, 345, 348-368, 372, 375, 376, 381,
  382, 386

  Chilova, 333, 334

  Choglokov, Pavel Nikolaievich, Russian Major-General, 102, 150, 152,
  319, 333, 340

  Ciudad Rodrigo, 12

  Claparède, Michel, Comte, French Général de Division, 39, 90, 92, 97,
  104, 148, 224, 231, 238, 240, 256, 259, 280, 281, 284, 334, 337, 357,
  362, 364

  Clausewitz, General, quoted, 80, 98, 105, 145, 170, 188, 192, 193,
  197, 199, 200, 213, 224, 227, 245, 254, 255, 356

  Colbert, French Général de Brigade, 83, 88, 90, 104, 238

  Compans, Jean Dominique, Comte, French Général de Division, 38, 83,
  92, 94, 97, 140, 191, 202, 205, 206, 279

  Constantine Pavlovich, H.I.H. Grand Duke, brother of Alexander I, 119,
  136, 137, 144, 146, 248, 353, 387

  Continental System, 15

  Corbineau, Jean Baptiste Juvenal, French Général de Brigade, 173, 178,
  181, 182, 299, 302, 305, 327, 347, 353, 360

  Coutard, French Général de Brigade, 251, 296, 347

  Czerikovo, 239


  Dahlenkirchen, 293, 294

  Dändels, Hermann Willem, Dutch General, 305, 327, 328, 366

  Danilevski, quoted, 75

  Danzig, 3, 15, 16, 19, 61, 67, 261, 377, 386, 388

  Daru, Comte, French Minister, 254

  Dashkova, 94, 96, 97

  D'Auvray (Dauvray), Saxon Major-General in Russian service, 170, 177

  Davidov, Russian Colonel (Cossacks), 250, 325

  Davout, Louis Nicholas, Prince d'Eckmühl and Marshal of France, 13, 15,
  16, 18, 35, 70, 71, 73, 78, 79, 81-84, 86, 88, 89-98, 112, 113, 114,
  115, 117, 122, 126, 132, 134, 138, 140-144, 145, 147, 148-156, 159,
  191, 195, 197, 204-218, 221, 222, 224, 270, 272, 278, 280, 281, 282,
  284, 307, 308, 310, 312, 314, 315-319, 332, 334, 335, 336, 337-340,
  344, 354, 356, 359, 362, 364, 366, 374, 379, 382

  Delaître, French Général de Brigade, 366

  Delzons, Alexis Joseph, Baron, French Général de Division, 103, 207,
  213, 216, 271, 272, 276, 285

  Delzons, Captain, 276

  Deroy, Bernard Erasmus, Bavarian General, 178, 180, 181, 182

  Desaix, Joseph Marie, Comte, French Général de Division, 38, 83, 92,
  94, 97, 114, 140, 205, 206

  Desna, 61, 298, 300, 302, 304

  D'Estrées, French Général de Division, 261, 377

  Diebich, Russian Major-General (Prussian), 170, 180, 370, 387

  Dmitrov, 244

  Dnieper, 6, 11, 60, 61, 84, 90, 97, 98, 109, 117, 121, 122, 123, 125,
  126, 132, 136, 139, 144, 148, 327, 342

  Dniester, 287

  Dode, French General of Engineers, 357

  Dokhturov, Dmitri Sergievich, Russian General, 55, 68, 70, 78, 79,
  80, 81, 106, 132, 137-143, 145, 147, 155, 202, 203, 207, 213, 216,
  226, 227, 247, 271, 272, 273, 274-279, 284, 352

  Dolgoruki, Prince, Russian Lieut.-General, 336

  Dombrowski, Jan Henryk, Polish General, 122, 123, 260, 293, 348-351,
  355, 361, 364, 368

  Doronimo, 202

  Dorogobuzh, 155, 192, 193, 194, 196, 320, 321, 324, 325

  Dorogomilov Suburb (Moscow), 230, 231

  Dorokhov, Ivan Semenovich, Russian Major-General, 73, 78, 82, 83, 84,
  97, 105, 237, 239, 244, 250, 270, 271, 272, 274, 284, 285

  Dorsenne, General, 122

  Doumerc, Jean Pierre, Baron, French Général de Division, 78, 173, 174,
  180, 182, 260, 296, 299, 305, 368

  Drissa, 7, 61, 80, 87, 88, 98-100, 101, 104, 109, 169, 173, 174, 176,
  177, 295

  Druia, 80, 173, 297, 298, 299

  Dubno, 289, 290

  Dubrovna, 98, 335

  Duka, Russian Major-General, 203, 340

  Dukhovchina, 324, 326

  Dumas, Mathieu, Comte, French Général de Division, 116

  Düna, 2, 6, 11, 60, 61, 79, 80, 84, 99, 100, 102, 105, 109, 114, 123,
  170, 172, 173, 176, 178, 179, 180, 293, 295, 297, 298, 299, 300, 302,
  303, 304, 305, 306, 347

  Dünaburg, 6, 7, 60, 61, 62, 80, 89, 100, 109, 169, 170, 172, 173,
  176, 295, 304

  Dufour, French Général de Brigade, 222, 224, 240, 256, 259

  Duroc, General; Napoleon's Grand Marshal of Palace, 379

  Durosnel, Comte, French Général de Division, 230

  Durutte, Joseph François, French Général de Division, 261, 329, 330

  Duverger, Paymaster, quoted, 236


  Eblé, Jean Baptiste, Baron, French Général de Division (Artillery), 71,
  122, 148, 334, 344, 345, 356, 359-362, 371-373, 375, 383, 386

  Eckau, 171, 172, 294

  Ekeln, Russian Colonel, 294, 296

  Engelhart, Russian Major-General, 351

  Ertel, Feodor Feodorovich, Russian Lieut.-General, 262-287, 293, 328

  Essen I, Ivan Ivanovich, Russian Lieut.-General, 170, 172, 262, 293,
  294, 295, 347

  Essen III, Peter Kirillovich, Russian Lieut.-General, 287, 289, 292,
  328, 330

  Eugen of Württemberg, Prince, Russian Major-General, 13, 18, 36, 56,
  141, 142, 143, 147, 148, 154, 208, 216, 318, 319, 234

  Eugène de Beauharnais, Prince, Viceroy of Italy, 13, 16, 63, 64, 66,
  68, 69, 80, 100-105, 114, 119, 121, 122, 126, 132, 148, 192, 193, 197,
  205, 207, 223, 230, 244, 270, 271, 272, 273, 276-279, 280, 284, 314,
  315, 316-319, 320, 324, 325, 326, 332, 334, 335, 336, 337, 345, 354,
  362, 364, 366, 374, 379

  Evers, French Général de Brigade (Dutch), 259, 262, 284, 314


  French Army, Organisation, Armament, Discipline, Clothing, Equipment,
  etc., 17, 21, 22, 23-29, 30, 31-33, 39, 63-76, 77, 109-116, 261-269,
  309-314, 321-324, 331-333, 344-345, 364, 365, 375, 376, 380, 384-386

  French Army Corps--
    1st Corps, 13, 15, 17, 18, 64, 68, 71, 72, 73, 83, 89, 90, 92, 94-97,
   114, 122, 126, 132-143, 193-225, 284, 307, 314, 315-320, 332, 333,
   334-343, 364
    2nd Corps, 13, 16, 18, 64, 68, 73, 75, 100, 114, 173-182, 295, 296,
    298-306, 345-347, 353-373, 374
    3rd Corps, 13, 16, 17, 18, 64, 68, 73, 100, 114, 121, 122, 126, 127,
    132-143, 147-155, 193-225, 284, 307, 314, 315-321, 324, 327, 334-343,
    4th Corps, 16, 18, 63, 64, 69, 76, 78, 88, 100, 102-106, 114, 122, 126,
    132-143, 193-225, 273-282, 284, 307, 314, 315-320, 325-327, 332,
    334-343, 364
    5th Corps (Poles), 15, 16, 18, 63, 64, 67, 81, 84, 91, 92, 114, 122,
    126, 132-143, 193-225, 238-240, 255-259, 284, 307, 314, 315-320, 334
    6th Corps (Bavarians), 18, 63, 64, 69, 76, 88, 100, 114, 176-182,
    295, 296, 298-306, 347, 375, 382-384
    7th Corps (Saxons), 13, 15, 16, 18, 19, 63, 64, 67, 80, 81, 91, 92,
    114, 159, 169, 292, 328-331
    8th Corps, 13, 16, 18, 19, 63, 64, 67, 80, 81, 84, 87, 91, 92, 114,
    122, 126, 132-143, 193-225, 284, 307, 314, 333, 364
    9th Corps, 14, 114, 251, 252, 260, 296, 297, 305, 325, 327, 328,
    345-347, 356-373, 374-378
    10th Corps, 63, 64, 68, 73, 114, 171-173, 293, 295, 347, 348
    11th Corps, 14, 114, 261, 373
    Imperial Guard, 13, 16, 18, 22-23, 25, 63, 64, 68, 73, 88, 114, 115,
    122, 126, 132-143, 193-225, 284, 307, 314, 332, 334-343, 364
    Reserve Cavalry, 13, 16, 18, 29, 63, 64, 68, 70, 72, 73, 74, 78, 86,
    90, 91, 100, 121, 122, 126, 127-129, 132-143, 148, 152,
    193-225, 238-240, 255, 259, 284, 307, 314, 332, 334-343, 364
    Artillery, 13, 75, 241, 265, 268, 332, 334-343, 364

  Fain, Baron, Napoleon's Private Secretary, 242

  Fatova, 94, 96

  Federovskoië, 316, 318

  Ferrier, French Général de Brigade, 239

  Fezensac, Raymond de Montesquiou, Duc de, French Colonel, 88, 112, 234,
  244, 312, 320, 364, 385

  Figner, Russian Captain, 250, 253, 325

  Fili, 226

  Fock, Alexander, Russian Major-General (Holsteiner), 346, 366, 371

  Fominskoië, 269, 271, 272, 280

  Fournier, French Général de Brigade, 368, 371

  Foy, Maximilien, French Général de Division, 13

  François, Captain, quoted, 142, 209, 221

  Frankfort-on-Oder, 16

  Friant, Louis, Comte, French Général de Division, 38, 78, 115, 122,
  140, 205, 208, 209

  Friederichs, French Général de Brigade, 94, 96, 238, 240, 340

  Frimont, Austrian Lieut.-General, 166, 330

  Froelich, Austrian Cavalry Brigadier, 166


  Gablenz, Saxon Cavalry Brigadier, 166

  Gaszinski, Polish poet, 9

  Gedeonovo, 147, 149, 153

  Gérard, Etienne Maurice, French Général de Brigade, 152-155, 205,
  207, 214, 279, 316, 338

  Gérard, Jean Baptiste, French Général de Division, 366, 368

  Girod, General Baron, quoted, 197

  Glogau, 13, 15, 16

  Glubokoië, 61, 88, 100, 116, 305, 347, 375

  Golénischev-Kutuzov, Mikhail Hilarionovich, Prince, Russian Marshal
  and Commander-in-Chief, 52, 57, 188, 194, 203-219, 221, 222, 223, 224,
  225-229, 243, 245, 247-251, 255, 256, 258, 259, 261, 270, 271, 274,
  276, 279-284, 291, 307, 308, 314, 316, 318, 333-342, 351, 352, 363,
  375, 386

  Golénischev-Kutuzov, Major-General (Russian), 326, 375, 387, 388

  Golitzin I, Dmitri Vladimirovich, Prince, Russian Lieut.-General, 249,
  250, 276, 318, 337-340

  Gomès, Freyre, Portuguese General in French service, 116

  Gonsherevo, 307

  Gorbunovo, 131, 146, 147, 148

  Gorchakov, Alexei, Prince, Russian Lieut.-General, 57, 201, 202, 203

  Gorki, 198, 200, 202, 216

  Gorodnia, 279, 281, 282

  Gorodeczna, 164-168, 169, 185, 289

  Gouvion, St. Cyr, Laurent, Comte, Marshal of France, 36, 50, 114, 176,
  177, 178, 179-182, 185, 260, 286, 287, 295-304

  Grant, U.S. General, example, cited, 245

  Grandjean, Charles Louis Dieudonné, Baron, French Général de Division,
  89, 171, 172, 294, 295, 387

  Grawert, Prussian General, 171, 172, 293, 294

  Gridnevo, 197, 201

  Grodno, 59, 62, 64, 69, 78, 80, 81, 82

  Grouchy, Emmanuel, Marquis de, French Général de Division, 27, 78,
  90, 92, 100, 126, 127, 148, 205, 207, 215, 345

  Gudin, Charles Etienne César, Comte, French Général de Division, 38,
  78, 122, 134, 140, 149, 150, 152

  Guilleminot, Baron, French Général de Brigade, 276, 278, 318

  Guyon, French Général de Brigade, 123, 189

  Gzhatsk, 194, 196, 197, 200, 201, 252, 259, 269, 284, 314


  Hamen, Russian Major-General, 176, 177, 182, 305

  Hardenberg, Baron, Prussian Prime Minister, 297

  Harpe, Russian Major-General, 328

  Haxo, French Général de Division, 70, 71

  Helfreich, Russian Major-General, 175, 177, 178

  Hesse-Darmstadt, Prince Emil of, 115

  Hesse-Homburg, Prince of, Austrian Major-General, 165, 166

  Heudelet, French Général de Division, 261, 388

  Hogendorp, Dirk van, Dutch Lieut.-General, 296

  Hohenlohe, Prince, Württemberg Colonel, 80

  Horodetz, 163

  Huard, French Général de Brigade, 103, 104

  Hügel, Württemberg Brigadier-General, 145

  Hunerbein, Prussian Major-General, 294, 295


  Iachvil, Lev Mikhailovich, Prince, Russian Major-General, 175, 178,
  299, 300, 303, 346, 366

  Ielnia, 130, 269, 273, 315, 320, 325

  Ignatiev, Russian Major-General, 93

  Igumen, 61, 90, 91, 349

  Illuxt, 295

  Ilovaïski IV, Cossack General, 315

  Ilovaïski V, Cossack Major-General, 65

  Ilovaïski IX, Cossack Colonel, 284, 306

  Inkovo, 121, 122

  Insterburg, 61


  Jakobstädt, 61, 173

  Jakubovo, 173, 174

  Jassy, 289

  Jerome Napoleon Bonaparte, King of Westphalia, 18, 63, 64, 69, 77, 78,
  80, 81, 82, 84, 87, 88, 91

  Jomini, French Général de Brigade (Swiss), 116, 184, 255, 308, 334, 357

  Junot, Andoche, Duc d'Abrantes, French Général de Division, 116, 126,
  139, 146, 148, 149, 152, 155, 223, 259, 263, 270, 281, 284, 309, 310,
  324, 325, 332, 333, 334, 335, 354, 364

  Jurovo, 333


  Kaisarov, 250

  Kakhovski, Russian Major-General, 173, 178

  Kalisch, 15, 16

  Kaluga, 117, 118, 227, 237, 238, 254, 255, 269, 307

  Kamenetz-Podolski, 289

  Kamenski, Sergei Mikhailovich, Russian Lieut.-General, 161, 164, 165

  Kapsevich, Russian Major-General, 128

  Karpenko, Russian Colonel, 207

  Karpov, Russian Major-General (Cossacks) 138, 140, 141, 142, 143, 147,
  148, 152, 250

  Kasplia (Lake), 124, 136

  Katan, 121, 124, 125, 132, 134, 136

  Keidani, 68, 73, 74

  Khovanski, Prince, Russian Major-General, 164, 165, 168

  Kiev, 6, 61, 62, 66, 160, 348

  Kleist, Prussian Major-General, 294

  Klengel, Saxon Major-General, 159, 161-163

  Kliastitzi, 173

  Kniaziewicz, Karol, Polish General of Division, 140, 368

  Kobrin, 62, 159, 161-163, 164, 168

  Koidanow, 349

  Kolomna, 228, 237

  Kolopenichi, 359

  Kolotskoï, 196, 197, 201, 209, 213, 220, 223, 310

  Kolotza, 197, 198, 199, 200, 205, 207

  Koltiniani, 387

  Kolubakin, Russian Major-General, 96, 131, 209, 210

  Königsberg, 15-16, 18, 19, 67, 76, 163, 261, 385, 386, 388

  Konopka, Polish General, 260

  Konovnitzin, Peter Ivanovich, Count, Russian Lieut.-General, 56, 57,
  103, 104, 137, 138, 140, 143, 150-153, 187, 194, 195, 197, 201, 206,
  209, 211, 227, 239, 248, 259

  Kopis, 342, 352, 375

  Korff, Feodor Karolovich, Baron, Russian Lieut.-General, 64, 80, 136,
  145, 146, 147, 148, 149, 153, 154, 203, 249, 258, 276, 315, 319, 337

  Korythnia, 127, 128, 129, 337

  Kosinski, Polish General, 164, 169, 388

  Kossecki, Polish General of Brigade, 348, 349

  Kotschubey, Count, 187

  Kovel, 168

  Kovno, 59, 61, 62-64, 67, 68, 70-73, 80, 260, 383, 384

  Kozakovski, Russian Major-General, 175, 182

  Krasnoï, 125, 126, 127, 128, 130, 333, 334, 335-343, 351

  Kreminskoië, 284

  "Kremlin," The (Russ. _Kreml_), 230, 231, 234, 235, 236, 241, 270, 273

  Kreutz, Russian Major-General, 79, 203, 210

  Kruchov, Russian Major-General, 161, 163

  Krupki, 354, 359

  Krymniki, 289

  Krymskoië, 224

  Kubinskoi, 224

  Kudachev, Prince, Russian Colonel, 244, 250

  Kulnev, Yakov Petrovich, Russian Major-General, 74, 75, 100, 173-175

  Kurland, 108, 170, 171, 260

  Kurakin, Prince Alexander Borisovich,
  Russian Ambassador to Paris, 10, 11

  Kutaïsov, Alexander Ivanovich, Count, Russian Major-General, 57, 153, 210


  Labiau, 388

  Laborde, Comte, French Général de Division, 225, 243, 270, 337, 370

  La Houssaye, Armand Lebrun, Comte de, French Général de Division, 127

  Lambert, Comte Charles (French), Russian Major-General, 160, 161, 162,
  164-168, 290, 328, 348-351

  Lanchantin, French Général de Brigade, 341

  Langeron, Alexandre Andrault, Comte de, French General in Russian Army,
  251, 287, 289, 328, 349, 350, 351, 358, 359, 363, 372, 381, 382

  Lanskoï I, Russian Privy Councillor, 237

  Lanskoï II,  Russian Major-General, 376

  Lariboissière,  Jean Ambroise Baston, Comte de, French General in
  Artillery, 241, 383, 386

  Larionovo, 337

  Larrey, Surgeon-General, Baron, 116

  Latour-Maubourg, Marie Victor Nicolas Fay, Marquis de, French Général
  de Division, 38, 80, 86, 91, 98, 113, 114, 126, 139, 159, 191, 205, 210,
  212, 256, 332, 334, 335, 337

  Lauriston, Comte, French Général de Division, 10, 243, 251

  Lavrov, Russian Lieut.-General, 203

  Lecoq, Karl Christian Erdmann Edler, Saxon Lieut.-General, 166

  Lecchi, Theodoro, Italian General of Brigade, 216

  Ledru des Essarts, François Roch, French Général de Division, 38, 112,
  134, 140-143, 150, 153, 205, 206, 280, 318, 376

  Lefebvre, François Joseph, Duc de Danzig, Marshal of France, 38, 236, 379

  Legrand, Claude Juste Alexandre, Count, French Général de Division, 38,
  100, 173, 174, 175, 176, 178-182, 300, 303, 304, 327, 328, 368

  Lejeune, Louis François, Baron, French Général de Brigade, 212, 215, 354

  Lepel, 61, 90, 91, 305, 327, 365

  Lesseps, M., 230

  Lewis, Russian Lieut.-General, 171, 172, 173, 293, 294, 347, 388

  Liadi, 126, 132, 334, 338, 340

  Lida, 64, 65, 68, 73, 78, 79

  Lieven, Count Christopher, Russian Diplomatist, 99, 249

  Lieven, Count, Russian Major-General, 328, 330

  Likhachev, Russian Major-General, 138, 141-143, 210, 214, 215

  Lilienberg, Austrian Major-General, 166

  Liozna, 114, 122

  Lithuania (Modern Western Russia), 60, 76, 116, 190, 191

  Lobau, Comte (General Mouton), 100, 101, 102, 104, 379

  Lochnitza, 350, 352, 355

  Loison, Louis Henri, Comte, French Général de Division, 163, 261, 377,
  379, 382, 384

  Lopuklin, Prince, 187

  Lossmina, 2, 126-128, 334, 335, 337, 338, 341

  Löw, Saxon Major-General, 296, 368

  Löwenstern, Colonel Baron, 118, 153, 187, 204, 214, 215, 216, 226,
  239, 251, 253, 256, 276, 278, 327

  Löwenstern, Baron, Major-General of Artillery, Russian, 256

  Lubino, 131, 146-155, 183

  Lublin, 64, 67, 69, 160

  Lubra, 335

  Luchizza, R., 104, 105

  Lüders, Russian Major-General, 262, 288, 348

  Lukoml, 346

  Lukomlia, R., 327, 328, 346

  Lukovkin, Cossack Colonel, 350, 351, 358

  Lutsk, 15, 16, 19, 62, 159, 160, 168

  Luzha, R., 275, 279, 282


  Macdonald, Jacques Etienne Joseph Alexandre, Duke de Taranto, Marshal
  of France, 37, 64, 171, 172, 176, 260, 287, 293, 347, 348, 386-388, 389

  Maison, French Général de Division, 300, 303

  Malakova Gate of Smolensk, 130, 140, 141, 145

  Maliavka, 359

  Maloyaroslavetz, 269-285,  307, 309

  Marchand, Jean Gabriel, Comte, French Général de Division, 81, 116

  Maret, Hugues Bernard, Duc de Bassano, French Minister for Foreign
  Affairs, 146, 269, 296, 331, 377, 378, 380

  Maria Louisa, Empress of the French, 2, 18

  Markov I, Russian Lieut.-General, 161, 164, 165, 166, 168

  Markov II, Count, Russian Lieut.-General, 200

  Marthod, French Major, 244

  Massenbach, Prussian Lieut.-General, 347, 387, 388

  Maximovo, 316

  Meade, U.S. General, example cited, 245

  Mecklenburg, Prince Karl of, Russian Major-General, 85, 93, 202

  Medyn, 269, 280, 307, 308

  Melissino, Russian Major-General, 161, 162-164, 165, 330

  Memel, 388

  Merle, Pierre Hugues Victor, Comte, French Général de Division, 38,
  173, 174, 178, 179-182, 299, 300, 303, 304

  Merlino, 336

  Metternich, Prince, Austrian Prime Minister, 3, 8, 116, 297

  Michino, 199, 202

  Mikalevka, 321, 334, 345

  Miloradovich, Mikhail Andreïevich, Russian General, 55, 57, 194, 200,
  203, 224, 225, 229, 230, 237, 238, 239, 240, 247, 250, 256, 258, 259,
  270, 271, 274, 289, 307, 308, 309, 314-320, 324, 333, 334-341, 352,
  375, 388

  Minsk, 61, 62, 64, 65, 69, 73, 77, 78, 81, 82, 83, 84, 89, 91, 115, 159,
  189, 190, 260, 269, 286, 292, 306, 328, 329, 345, 348, 349, 351, 353,

  Mir, 81, 83, 84, 85

  Mitau, 59, 61, 63, 89, 171, 172, 293, 294, 295

  Mogelnitza-on-Bug, 91

  Mohilev, 61, 84, 90, 91, 92, 93, 94, 97, 104, 108, 109, 113, 122, 123,
  130, 260, 293, 357

  Molodechno, 357, 376, 377

  Momonovo, 225

  Montbrun, Louis Pierre, Comte, French Général de Division, 38, 78, 102,
  104, 105, 122, 123, 126, 127, 152, 206, 214

  Montholon, Comte, quoted, 263

  Morand, Louis Charles Antoine Alexis, Comte, French Général de Division,
  38, 71, 78, 140, 149, 154, 204, 205, 207, 209, 214

  Mordvinov, Chamberlain, 305

  Mortier, Edouard Adolphe Casimir Joseph, Duc de Treviso, Marshal of
  France, 38, 88, 223, 224, 230, 231, 270, 273, 274, 281, 284, 309, 315,
  338, 340, 379

  Moscow (Moskva), 62, 65, 185, 186, 194, 218, 219, 225-240, 242-244, 259,
  261, 263-270, 271, 273, 289, 306, 315

  Moskva, R, 198-200, 237

  Mourier, French Général de Brigade, 139

  Mozhaïsk, 197, 198, 217, 221, 222, 223, 224, 225, 237, 259, 281, 283,
  284, 307, 308, 309, 310, 311

  Mozyr, 62, 93, 161, 262, 287, 293, 328, 349, 386

  Mstislavl, 97, 106, 130

  Müller, Rear-Admiral von, Russian, 293

  Müller Zakomelski, Peter Ivanovich, Russian Major-General, 249, 250,
  256, 258

  Murat, Joachim Napoleon, King of Naples, Marshal of France, 14, 37,
  73, 78, 101, 102-104, 106, 113, 121, 122, 126, 127-129, 132, 134, 138,
  140, 141, 152, 191, 195, 210-216, 222, 223, 224, 229, 230, 231, 238,
  239, 240, 244, 255, 256, 258, 259, 271, 279, 282, 309, 379, 380, 382,
  383, 385

  Musin Pushkin, Russian Major-General, 328, 388


  Nadva, 124

  Nansouty, Etienne Marie Champion de, Comte, French Général de Division,
  37, 38, 79, 100, 102, 103, 104, 122, 126, 127, 148, 152, 189, 206, 209,

  Napoleon I, Emperor of the French, 1-16, 18, 19, 33, 34, 37, 63, 67-73,
  75, 77, 78, 81, 83, 87, 88, 89, 100-102, 104-107, 108, 113-117, 120,
  122, 123, 134-144, 146, 148, 149, 155, 156, 158, 159, 160, 161, 171,
  172, 176, 177, 183-186, 188-192, 193-197, 201, 202, 204-219, 220-223,
  225, 229-231, 235-240, 241-244, 254, 255, 259, 263-271, 273, 279-283,
  306, 307, 308, 309, 310, 321, 324, 325, 333-340, 342, 343, 344, 345,
  351-362, 364, 365, 368-373, 374, 377-380, 386, 389, 390

  Nara, 245, 256

  Narbonne, Comte, 11

  Narew, R., 81

  Nelson, Admiral, example of, quoted, 212

  Nesvizh, 62, 81, 84, 85, 86

  Nevel, 296

  Neverovski, Dmitri Petrovich, Russian Major-General, 56, 65, 98, 120,
  125, 126-129, 131, 132, 202, 206

  Ney, Michel, Duc d'Elchingen, Marshal of France, 13, 17, 35, 73, 100,
  101, 102, 104, 105, 112, 114, 116, 121-123, 126-129, 132-135, 139-143,
  145, 147, 155, 191, 205-218, 220, 224, 234, 244, 270, 271, 272, 274,
  280, 307, 314, 316-320, 321, 324, 327, 332, 333, 334, 336, 337, 341,
  342, 354, 357, 362, 364, 367-373, 374-381, 384, 385

  Niemen, R., 18, 19, 59-61, 63-70, 72, 73, 75, 76, 80, 82, 89, 108, 191,
  348, 384, 385, 386

  Nikolaev, 82

  Nitcha, R., 174

  Nizhnii Novgorod, 227

  Norway, 13

  Novi Bykhov, 97, 106

  Novi Dvor, 65

  Novi Svergen, 62, 348

  Novi Troki, 77, 80, 88

  Novigrodek, 62, 82, 84

  Novosilki, 96, 97


  Oboiarzina, 174, 175

  Ochmiana, 61, 79, 81, 377, 379, 382

  Ochs, Westphalian General of Division, 152

  Oder, R., 3, 261

  Okunev, General, quoted, 66, 158

  Oldenburg, 2, 3

  Olsuviev, Zacharii Dmitrievich, Russian Major-General, 154, 208

  Orani, 73, 78

  Orders (Russian)--
    St. George, 247
    St. Andrew, 192
    St. Vladimir, 247
    St. Alexander Nevski, 247

  Orlov-Denisov, Vasilii Vasilievich, Russian Major-General, 150, 152, 250,
  256, 258, 325, 375

  Ornano, Polish General of Division, 207

  O'Rourke, Russian Major-General, 358

  Orsha, 60, 61, 90, 91, 92, 94, 104, 114, 156, 189, 260, 305, 334, 336,
  342, 343, 344, 350, 351, 353, 354

  Ostermann-Tolstoï, Alexander Ivanovich, Count, Russian Lieut.-General,
  102-104, 138, 203, 207, 215, 216, 227, 247, 258, 337

  Ostrog, 62, 286, 289

  Ostrovno, 102, 104, 105

  Oudinot, Charles Nicolas, Duc de Reggio, Marshal of France, 13, 35, 74,
  75, 78, 100, 101, 114, 172, 173-179, 182, 345, 346, 353, 355, 357-359,
  361, 362, 364, 365, 367, 368, 372, 376

  Ozharovski, Count, Russian Major-General, 250, 272, 334, 336, 338


  Pahlen I, Peter Petrovich von der, Count, Russian Major-General, 79,
  105, 106, 136, 147, 203

  Pahlen II, Pavel Petrovich, Count, Russian Major-General, 353, 355,
  358, 359, 363, 367

  Pajol, Claude Pierre, French Général de Brigade, 72, 78, 79, 90, 92,
  123, 189, 196

  Pakhra, R., 237, 238, 239, 240

  Panki, 229

  Paris, 380

  Partouneaux, Louis, Comte, French Général de Division, 346, 356, 366,

  Paskievich, Ivan Feodorovich, Russian Major-General, 57, 93, 96, 97,
  120, 129, 131, 158, 209, 210, 307, 308, 310, 316, 318, 319, 336, 341

  Paulucci, the Marchese di, Russian Lieut.-General (Italian), 99, 101,
  347, 388

  Pelletier, French Général de Brigade, 319

  Perebrod, 100

  Petrovski Palace, 236

  Phillipon, Baron, French Général de Division, 336

  Phull, Baron Karl, German Lieut.-General in Russian Service, 7, 54, 66,
  80, 98, 99, 100

  Pilwiski, 67, 68, 385

  Pino, Dominico, Comte, Italian General, 38, 189, 205, 217, 223, 242,
  278, 285, 336

  Pinsk, 91, 162, 286, 293

  Pinsk Marshes, 16, 19, 41, 60, 62, 86, 161, 163

  Pion des Loches, Colonel, quoted, 386

  Pire, French Général de Brigade, 102

  Platov, Matvei Ivanovich, Russian General of Cossack, 53, 65, 66, 73,
  78, 81, 82, 83, 84, 85, 86, 93, 97, 105, 121, 138, 193, 194, 203, 213,
  216, 222, 223, 224, 227, 249, 250, 270, 274, 282, 307, 308, 314, 316,
  318, 319, 320, 324, 325, 326, 333, 337, 342, 352, 354, 364, 367,
  382-384, 385, 386

  Plauzonne, French Général de Brigade, 207

  Plechenitzi, 376

  Plock, 15

  Poddubno, 165, 166

  Poland, 2, 8, 60

  Polonka, 163

  Polota, R., 177, 178, 299, 300

  Polotsk, 61, 100, 101, 102, 104, 169, 173, 176, 177-182, 185, 254, 260,
  261, 287, 295, 296, 298-304, 305, 306, 347

  Poniatowski, Joseph Anthony, Polish Prince and General, 36, 80, 81, 92,
  98, 135, 140, 141, 148, 193, 204, 207, 208, 216, 223, 224, 256, 271,
  272, 281, 307, 314, 315, 316, 318, 319, 326, 389

  Poniemon, 70, 71

  Population of Russian Towns, 63

  Poriechie, 106, 109, 114, 118, 121, 124, 132, 156, 157

  Posen, 16

  Potemkin, Russian Colonel, 216, 224

  Pouget, Baron, French Général de Brigade, 328

  Pradt, Dufour de, Archbishop of Malines, 9, 191

  Praga, 291, 368

  Pregel, R., 388

  Preising, Graf von, Bavarian Major-General, 116, 207, 331

  Prenn, 80

  Prikaz Vidra, 121, 123, 136

  Prizmenitza, 180, 181

  Propoïsk, 106

  Prudichevo, 131, 137, 148, 152

  Prussia, Friedrich Wilhelm III, King of, 10, 297

  Prussia, 4, 7, 8, 10, 19, 66

  Prussian Army, 13, 15, 16, 18, 19

  Pruzhani, 19, 91, 162, 163, 164, 291, 328

  Pskov, 169

  Pushnitzki, Russian Colonel, 141

  Putna, R., 289


  Radziwil, Prince, Polish General of Brigade, 172

  Raievski, Nikolai Nikolaievich, Russian Lieut.-General, 55, 84, 85,
  86, 92, 94, 96, 97, 109, 125, 129, 131-137, 138, 143, 202, 216, 227,
  237, 238, 247, 276, 278, 279, 336

  Rapp, Jean Baptiste, French Général de Division, 206, 242, 282, 368

  Rasasna, 122, 123, 126

  Razitzi, 173, 176, 177

  Razout, Jean Nicolas, Baron, French Général de Division, 134, 140,
  142, 150, 152, 205, 280, 318, 324, 341

  Reynier, Jean Louis Ebenezer, Comte, French Général de Division, 36,
  69, 80, 81, 84, 87, 92, 159, 160, 161, 162, 163, 164-168, 292, 329,
  330, 388, 389

  Riazan, 228

  Ricard, French Général de Division, 340, 341

  Riga, 6, 60, 61, 62, 89, 109, 170, 171, 172, 260, 287, 293, 294, 295,
  297, 347, 387

  Rochechouart, Comte de, French Officer in Russian Service, 352

  Rogachev, 113, 123

  Roguet, François, Comte, French Général de Division, 284, 336, 337,
  338, 340

  Romanovo, 85, 86

  Romoeuf, French Général de Brigade, 209

  Rosen, Grigorii Vladimirovich, Baron, Russian Major-General, 121, 340

  Rossi, Russian Major-General, 141, 142

  Rossi, R., 329, 330

  Rossieni, 64, 68, 73, 171

  Rostopchin, Feodor Vasilievich, Comte, Governor-General of Moscow, 186,
  225, 226, 232, 233

  Rosniecki, Alexander, Polish Cavalry General, 84, 86

  Roussel, 103

  Royal Citadel of Smolensk, 130, 131, 135, 138

  Rüdiger, Russian Colonel, 304

  Rudnia, 106, 121, 122

  Rumiantzev, Count Nikolai Petrovich, Grand Chancellor of Russia, 45, 248

  Rurikovich Tzars of Russia, 117

  Rusa, 223

  Russian Army, 43-50, 63, 65, 66, 68, 108-109, 245-256, 287, 289, 298,
  333, 382

  Russian roads, 6, 59, 61, 67, 79, 80

  Rustan, Napoleon's Mameluke attendant, 379


  Sabaniev, Russian Lieut.-General, 287, 289, 328, 348, 349, 358, 363, 368

  Sacken, Fabien von der Osten, Baron, Russian Lieut.-General (German), 56,
  66, 160, 161, 168, 292, 328-331, 348-386, 388

  Sahr, Saxon Brigadier, 166

  St. Genies, French Général de Brigade, 100

  St. Germain, Comte, French Général de Division, 38, 102, 256

  St. Petersburg, 144

  St. Priest, Emmanuel, Comte de, Russian Major-General (French), 119,
  147, 202, 387

  Saltanovka, 92, 109

  Saltikov, Nikolai Ivanovich, Count, Russian Field-Marshal, 72

  Salza, Baron, Russian Staff Officer, 153

  Saumarez, Sir James de, British Admiral, 12

  Sazonov, Russian Major-General, 173, 175, 178, 179, 304

  Scharnhörst, Prussian General, 99

  Scheler, Württemberg Lieut.-General, 116, 134, 140, 142, 150, 153,
  205, 230

  Schlock, 172, 293, 294

  Schwarzenberg, Karl Philip, Fürst von, Austrian General, 19, 60,
  66, 69, 81, 87, 91, 92, 159, 160, 163-169, 251, 260, 287, 290-292,
  296, 306, 328-331, 348, 351, 383, 387, 388, 389

  Sebastiani, Francesco Horatio Bastien, Comte, French Général de
  Division (Corsican), 38, 80, 114, 121, 122, 123, 230, 239, 256,
  258, 259

  Sebezh, 169, 173, 174, 295

  Selets, 94, 96

  Semenovskoï, 198-200, 203, 206-216

  Semlevo, 194, 315, 320

  Semlino, 223

  Sereth, R., 289

  Seslavin, Captain, Russian, 250, 272, 325, 379, 383

  Shakovski, Ivan, Russian Major-General, 216

  Shavli, 16

  Sheïn Ostrog, 138, 148

  Shevardino, 201, 206

  Shevich, Russian Major-General, 106

  Shuvalov, Pavel Andreïevich, Count, Russian Lieut.-General, 69, 102

  Siberia, 186

  Siberia, Prince of, Russian Major-General, 305

  Sieben, Bavarian Major-General, 181, 182

  Siegenthal, Austrian Lieut.-General, 165, 166

  Sienno, 328

  Sievers I, Count, Russian Major-General, 93, 94, 97, 125, 203, 206

  Sievers II, Count, Russian Colonel of Engineers, 298, 299, 300

  Sigismund III, King of Poland, 130

  Sissoiev, Cossack Colonel, 93, 94, 96

  Sivokhino, 173, 174, 176, 182, 286, 295, 298

  Skalon, Russian Major-General, 141

  Sklov, 114

  Slavkovo, 194, 308

  Slonim, 16, 62, 64, 81, 84, 91, 159, 260, 292, 329, 330, 348

  Slutsk, 62, 85, 86, 90

  Smolensk, 61, 62, 70, 97, 99, 106, 108, 116-121, 123-127, 128, 129,
  144, 145-148, 156-158, 183, 184, 187, 189, 190, 193, 194, 251, 252,
  254, 259, 260, 269, 305, 306, 308, 310, 315, 324, 325, 326, 327,
  331-335, 337, 340, 341

  Smoliani, 346, 347

  Smorgoni, 64, 73, 83, 378, 379

  Sokal, 59

  Sokolnicki, General (Polish), 135

  Solovievo, 131, 137, 146, 154, 155, 158, 192

  Soltyk, Comte, Polish Officer, quoted, 71

  Sorbier, Jean Barthelemy, Comte, French Général de Division, 215, 216

  Sparrow Hills, 229, 230

  Spas, 178-181

  Spas Kuplia, 239, 250, 258

  Staroi Borisov, 364, 366

  Staroi Bykhov, 61, 93-97

  Staroï Konstantinov, 160, 289

  Staroi Selie, 375

  Stavidzki, Russian Colonel, 131

  Steingell, Thaddeus, Count, Russian Lieut.-General, 58, 171, 262,
  286, 287, 291, 295, 297, 298-304, 327, 366, 370

  Stragan, R., 149, 150, 153

  Strogonov, Pavel Alexandrovich, Russian Major-General, 104, 138,
  207, 208, 250

  Struria, 299, 300

  Studianka, 353, 357, 358-362, 364-372, 374, 375

  Styr, R., 168, 286, 289, 290, 291

  Subervie, French General of the Brigade, 80

  Surazh, 106, 113, 114, 118

  Suvorov (Field-Marshal Prince), mentioned, 188

  Sventsiani, 61, 64, 66, 68, 73, 74, 75, 78, 79

  Sver, 78, 79

  Svislocz, on Berezina, 85

  Svislozh, 330

  Svolna, 177

  Sweden, 12, 13


  Tarutino, 239, 240, 245, 248, 269, 250, 251, 256, 258, 261, 269,
  270, 272, 274, 276

  Tauroggen, 387

  Teveli, 168

  Tharreau, Jean Victor, Baron, French Général de Division, 38, 91,
  92, 139, 208

  Thorn, 15

  Tilsit, 5, 11, 59, 61, 63, 64, 68, 73, 387, 388

  Tilsit, Treaty of, 5

  Toll, Karl, Baron, Quartermaster-General of 1st Russian Army, 54,
  101, 119, 148, 192, 196, 227, 228, 255

  Tolochin, 334, 353

  Tormazov, Alexander Petrovich, Count, Russian General, 19, 52, 58,
  66, 69, 91, 159, 161-169, 250, 286, 287, 289-291, 296, 337-340, 386

  Tornov, Russian Colonel, 149

  Torres Vedras, 7

  Tuchkov I, Nikolai Alexeivich, Russian Lieut.-General, 69, 104, 136,
  137, 149, 152, 202, 203, 207, 208, 213

  Tuchkov II, Peter Alexeivich, Russian Major-General, 349, 386, 388

  Tuchkov III, Pavel Alexeivich, Russian Major-General, 147, 148-154

  Tuchkov IV, Alexander Alexeivich, Russian Major-General, 101, 104,
  206, 208, 209

  Turno, Polish Brigadier-General, 84, 85

  Turshaninov, Russian Colonel, 303

  Tutulmin, Director of Moscow Foundling Hospital, 233, 243

  Tyskiewicz, Polish Cavalry General, 85, 86, 284

  Tzarévo, 198, 203, 211, 212


  Uchach, 104, 302, 305

  Ula, R., 327, 346

  Uspenskoïe, 198

  Usveia, 346

  Utitza, 198, 199, 202, 206, 207, 208, 216

  Uvarova, 334, 338

  Uvarov, Feodor Petrovich, Russian Lieut.-General, 64, 74, 75,
  101, 103, 118, 136, 147, 150, 193, 213, 214, 224, 227, 318, 336

  Uzha, R., 192


  Valence, Cyrus Marie Alexandre, Comte de, French Général de
  Division, 78, 83, 92, 94

  Valentin, French Général de Brigade, 181

  Vandamme, Comte, French Général de Division, 87

  Vassilchikov, Hilarion Vasilievich, Russian Major-General, 85,
  96, 97, 125, 137, 249, 258, 276, 315, 318, 337

  Vaudoncourt quoted, 354

  Veliaminov, 293

  Velikii Luki, 254

  Velikii Novgorod, 169

  Velizh, 113, 114

  Verdier, Jean Antoine, Comte, French Général de Division, 38, 174,
  175, 176, 178-182

  Vereia, 245, 269, 271, 272, 274, 281, 284, 307, 309, 310

  Verkalobovo, 97

  Veselovo, 350

  Viasma, 2, 194, 196, 262, 284, 309, 310, 314-320

  Viazema, 224, 225

  Victor (Claude Victor Perrin), Duc de Belluno, Marshal of France,
  14, 37, 251, 252, 260, 296, 297, 305, 315, 325, 328, 345-347, 356,
  359, 363, 364, 366-373, 374, 377, 382, 387

  Vileika, 88

  Vilia, 2, 67, 72, 73, 74

  Vilkomirz, 64, 74, 75, 78, 79

  Villata, Italian Brigadier-General, 113

  Villeblanche, M. de, French Intendant of Smolensk, 252

  Vilna, 15, 16, 59, 61, 62, 64, 65, 67-80, 108, 115, 116, 146, 188,
  190, 191, 251, 269, 287, 305, 347, 376, 377, 378, 380, 381, 383,
  384, 385, 386, 387

  Vinkovo, 239, 256, 259, 262, 274

  Virgin of Smolensk, the, 202

  Vistitski II, Russian Major-General, 196

  Vistula, 2, 15, 16, 61

  Vitebsk, 60-62, 100, 101, 102, 104, 105, 106, 107, 109, 113, 114,
  115, 116, 120, 173, 182, 260, 283, 305, 308, 328, 351

  Vladimir, 227, 231, 244, 246

  Vladimir Monomakh, King of Russia, 231

  Vlastov, Russian Major-General, 178, 295, 304, 327, 356, 370

  Voïkov, Russian Artillery Colonel, 154

  Voïnov, Russian Lieut.-General, 287, 289, 291 328, 348, 349, 350,
  355, 358, 363

  Volkhonski, Peter Mikhailovich, Prince, Alexander's Adjutant-General, 65

  Volkovisk, 19, 62, 65, 66, 69, 77, 81, 329, 385

  Vologin, 82

  Volokovaia, 124, 125, 136

  Vop, R., 325, 326

  Voronovo, 232, 239, 258, 271, 272

  Voronzov, Mikhail Semenovich, Count, Russian Major-General, 56, 85,
  97, 202, 203, 206


  Warsaw, 8, 15, 16, 62, 63, 67, 159, 160, 164, 191, 291, 329, 378

  Warsaw (Grand Duchy), 2, 3, 7, 8, 9, 15, 16, 18, 59, 61, 62, 64,
  67, 92, 292

  Wasowicz, Captain, Polish, 379

  Wellesley, Lord, British Minister, 12

  Wellington, Arthur Wellesley, Duke of, 7, 199, 390

  Wengrow, 260, 291

  Witte, Russian Colonel, 329

  Wittgenstein, Peter, Count, Russian Lieut.-General (German), 55, 58,
  66, 67, 68, 69, 73, 74, 78, 79, 80, 100, 101, 104, 105, 114, 169-182,
  245, 261, 262, 286, 287, 295, 296, 297-304, 305, 306, 325, 327, 328,
  331, 345-347, 352, 353, 356, 358, 359, 363, 364-371, 375, 386

  Wilson, Sir Robert, British Major-General, 120, 141, 144, 219, 225,
  232, 239, 246, 251, 275, 280, 281, 288, 311, 354

  Winzingerode, Ferdinand, Baron, Russian Lieut.-General (Hessian), 117,
  118, 122, 230, 244, 250, 270, 273, 315, 326

  Wollzogen, Colonel von, German Officer on Russian Staff, 98, 118

  Wrede, Karl Philip, Comte, Bavarian General, 178-182, 295, 299, 300,
  304, 347, 375, 382, 384

  Württemberg, Prince Alexander of, 99, 153

  Württemberg, Friedrich Wilhelm, King of, 3

  Wylie, Doctor Sir James, 211


  Yefremov, Russian Colonel, 250

  Yermólov, Alexei Petrovich, Russian Major-General, 54, 101, 119, 124,
  125, 147, 150, 210, 227, 246, 256, 272, 352, 359, 364

  Yorck, Prussian Lieut.-General, 294, 295, 387, 388

  Yukhnov, 269, 284

  Yurí "Dolgorúki," Founder of Moskow, 231

  Yurkovski, Russian Major-General, 324, 327


  Zamosc, 164, 169

  Zapolski, Russian Major-General, 93

  Zaslavl, 160, 289

  Zayonczek, Joseph, Polish General, 140, 326, 332, 335, 354, 368

  Zea Bermudez, Spanish envoy, 12

  Zechmeister, Austrian Major-General, 166

  Zembin, 349, 350, 356, 361, 362, 376

  Zvenigorod, 223


Original spelling has been retained.

No attempt to resolve differences in spelling of place or family names
has been made.



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