Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

was able to make a stand, and with the same impetuosity rushes on the enemy, who find themselves suddenly checked in their career by fresh troops, who must also be repulsed. In the meantime the first body are recovering from their fatigue; and in this manner they continue to act the whole day, with considerable loss of men indeed; but when night puts an end to the battle, the corps at any rate has not been beaten, and next morning to follow it would be fruitless. Moreau was pursued for some days in Switzerland by the Russians, but they were never able to come up with him in his flight. Towards evening he had taken a strong position, and next morning had disappeared.

But this activity must not be confounded with durable strength. The French are the lightest, but not the strongest soldiers.

The medical establishment of the French army is excellent, and their officers in general exceedingly good.

AUSTRIANS. The German troops are slow in their attack, indifferent in battle, and slow in their retreat. They leave behind them the most prisoners, because the French make their escape, and the Russians will suffer themselves to be cut to pieces rather than run from their post.

Irresolute, heavy, and without a spirit of union, they are inclined to surrender when alarmed on several points at once. Their usual expression is, “We are cut off;” The report spreads like wild-fire, and the next word is, “We must surrender.” We have several instances of large bodies of Austrians having been taken prisoners by much smaller bodies of French troops in mountainous districts, when small detachments made their appearace on different sides at the same time. On such occasions the Austrians see their error when it is too late to correct it.

When the drum beats to arms to attack the enemy, it is not unusual for the Austrian soldiers to call out in a grumbling tone, “ We have not yet cooked our victuals.” An Austrian soldier, before he can fight, must eat and drink regularly. The Austrian troops, therefore, are treated with a care which is not found in other armies.

But that these German troops might be excited to greater activity, has been proved by their campaigns in conjunction with the Russians. They never remained behind, and always showed the same perseverance; but they were much slower in their movements.

The case with the Hungarian regiments is quite different. They are much livelier, and have a great deal of martial spirit, with a high sense of national honour; and, on that account, will never lay aside their long pantaloons. Should any one give them boots, they would desert by hundreds to any enemy who would permit them to wear their favourite dress. Their officers are for the most part Hungarians. That they have a propensity to plundering cannot be denied.

No cavalry are better than the Hungarian. They ride as well as the Turks, and are disciplined in the same manner as those of the most civilized nations in Europe. The French cavalry are inferior to them, but the Russian approaches very near to them, and are capable of making head against them.

There are no better artillery-men than the Austrians. This corps, by experience during long and difficult sieges of the strongest places in Europe, has been brought to the highest degree of perfection. To each gun is attached a fire-worker, and he knows his cannon as well as the Arab does his horse. Two hundred Austrian cannon will play the whole day without the least confusion, and never in vain. Seldom does the fire-worker fail in his duty. All the sieges under Suworof were conducted by Austrian artillery-men.

In a word, their etat-major, or etat des quarter-maitres, called in Russia their suite, is excellent. Men such as Chateler, Zach, and Weinrotter, do honour to their country. The last-mentioned, as lieutenant-colonel, conducted the Russians through Switzerland. On account of the skill displayed on this occasion, he was offered a commission in the Russian service, with the rank of major-general; and had Alexander been on the throne he would certainly have accepted it. His services were acknowledged in his own country, and he soon rose, a very rare instance in Austria, to be a major-general: such is the respect paid to men of merit in this corps.

Young men of condition are very averse to serve long in the lower ranks of superior officers. They endeavour, therefore, to get into the elat major of this corps, and remain in it till they find an opportunity of returning to the army as officers on the staff. The consequence of this is, that the staff officers are men of great information, and distinguish themselves very advantageously in the corps of superior officers.

RUSSIANS.

When Russians attack, they must either conquer or die. With skilful manæuvres or able retreats they are unacquainted. They know only to go forwards, but never backwards. A Russian soldier in his flight is the most helpless animal in the world. This state to him is so unnatural, that he does not know in what manner to help himself; and, this is often a very great defect.

The Russian soldiers are quicker than the Austrian, without having the activity of the French, or their composure in flight. Their impetuous desire to push forwards, combined with their inexhaustible strength,

their esprit de corps, and belief in predestination, make the Russian troops of the line the best infantry in the world, when they have to fight in large plains. • The Russian soldiers, distinguished from those of every other nation by religion, language, and habits, possess a great deal of national honour. Formerly the name of St. Nicholas was capable of performing wonders. At present the word Naschi, Our countrymen," has sucseeded it. The wonders that can be effected by this word are astonishing. The Russian advances to battle with great indifference; but as soon as the first Russian falls, he is heard to exclaim, “A countryman, General ! let us attack;" and on such occassions it is often difficult to restrain him.

The Russian soldiers have a firm belief in predestination. When danger is mentioned to them, their usual reply is, “We cannot obtain , a victory, unless God has so decreed;" and under this conviction they

expose themselves with resignation to certain destruction. Their idea is, “ We cannot avoid death at the time and place appointed for us; and if it be not appointed at present, no bullet will touch us."

What the Russians are in a particular manner distinguished for is, their inexhaustible strength. They are, without doubt, the hardiest soldiers in the world. Suworof, who well knew this quality of his troops, always fell upon the French with his whole force, without suffering them to rest. The French, therefore, found themselves much mistaken when they imagined that they could tire out the Russians by long continued skirmishes. They gained nothing by the strength of their troops of the line, which they prudently spared, nor had they any time to assemble and take rest. In the campaign in Italy in the year 1799, the French soldiers, under the command of Scherer, had lost a great deal of their courage; the Austrians had opened the campaign with success, and when Suworof came up he carried every thing before him like a torrent. Moreau was unable to withstand his force, though his army had been much weakened by the garrisons he was obliged to leave behind him. Suworof committed the care of sieges to the Austrians, and advanced so rapidly forwards with the Russians, that the French army, weakened and disheartened, could no longer make a stand. Thus the Russians swept every thing before them, till Moreau had retired behind the mountains of Genoa. Here he conceived a plan which was worthy of his genius, and which nothing could have defeated but the inexhaustible strength of the Russians. Mecdonald drew all the troops from Naples, and having collected his whole force at Bologna, entertained a hope that he should thus be able to place the Russians, who had taken post at Turin, between two fires. But Suworof marched from Turin at six in the evening, reached Alexandria next day by eleven, marched again at six in the evening, and on the third day was

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

twelve miles from Piacenza, where his advanced guard attacked the French, whom the Austrian generals Ott and Klenau, who had been between Bologna and Farrara, were driving before them. The Russian troops, which had marched every day upwards of forty-five miles, and which had actually the appearance of sans culottes, were immediately led into action. A most bloody conflict began, which was renewed next day, and which terminated in the dispersion of Macdonald's army. This, however, was only half the business. The Russians marched back with the same rapidity, in order to meet Moreau, who was approaching Turin. Moreau then retreated once more to the Genoese mountains, formed a junction with the remains of Maodonald's army, and, in order to achieve something decisive, fought the battle of Novi, where the Russians, who formed the centre, penetrated three times to the bottom of the impassable mountains, which were planted with heavy cannon brought from Genoa. Such marches and exploits could be performed in the warm climate of Italy only by Russians.

The Russian soldier cooks his victuals when he can, and has no definitive time for eating or sleeping. A Russian is always awake upon duty, and always sleeps when he has leisure, and wherever he may be. This is seen daily in the case of watchmen and servants. He requires less than an individual of any other nation, and is less expense in the field.

The Russian soldiers formerly were accustomed not to give or to receive quarter, and this practice they followed in their wars with the Turks. The Turks are not Christians, and those who are not Christians, according to their idea, are not men. In this belief they cut down their prisoners, and even massacred their women. In the Turkish wars, also, too many prisoners were a burden to them. In Italy the case was different: the French were Christians, or at least better Christains than the Turks; the Russians, therefore, were desirous to preserve their prisoners, because they knew where they could dispose of them, and because the number of them increased the courage of the soldiers. The Russian soldiers showed no cruelty towards them; they took from them whatever they had, and suffered them to retire behind the front line.

Being accustomed to carry on war in deserts, and not in requisitionary countries, a Russian army is attended by a much greater number of waggons than any other; but they are so light, and there are so many workmen in the army, that these carriages can be easily repaired; and in general they do not impede the rapid progress of the troops.

There are two great nations which seem destined to carry on war in open level districts, such as Wallachia and Moldavia. As men, the Turks are a very noble race; their belief in fatalism, their national pride, and the intoxicating use of opium, give them more than human

strength in an attack. The greater part of their troops consists of cavalry; they are excellent horsemen, and the horse is accustomed to fight for his rider. The charge of these cavalry can be checked only by destruction, that is, a well-directed fire of musketry; and it requires much coolness to stand before them and suffer them to advance to the necessary distance. If the Turks break through this barrier of fire, there is no restraining them; it is needless to think of rallying again or of fight. Their progress is every-where marked with death. But if their line be broke by the musketry, if the least wavering takes place in their movement, the Russian line advances with fixed bayonets, and the battle in a very short time is decided. A battle with the Turks may be begun a little before night, and yet ended the same evening; whereas a battle with the French will continue the whole day, and be scarcely decided at a late hour at night.

(From The Cabinet.) Madame Villacerfe was a French lady of noble family, dignified character, and unblemished life, whose death was distinguished by a greatness of mind, not usual in her sex, and when we consider all its circumstances, unequalled by the most renowned heroes of antiquity.'

The short history of this excellent woman, is, I believe, generally knowo, and will probably be recognized by many of my readers, but she is so strik. ing an example of Christian fortitude, philosophic suffering, generous forbearance, and angelic love, without the least alloy of vanity, selfishness, or sensuality, that the affecting narrative cannot be dwelt on too long, nor repeated too often.

An early, a mutual affection, had taken place between the subject of our present article, and Festeau, an eminent surgeon of Paris ; but from the insurmountable obstacles which in those days (1700) so strictly guarded superior rank, all further intercourse was prevented than animated civilities, when opportunities offered, and soft but secret wishes.

The lover would have perished, rather than by a rash proceeding, degrade the object of his affections in the eyes of her family and the world; and his mistress, taught by love, the omnipotent leveller of all distinctions, though she felt too powerfully the merit of Festeau, who, in the scale of unprejudiced reason, far outweighed a thousand pretenders to frivolous accom. plishment and superficial attainment; she nobly resolved

To quit the object of no common choice
In mild submission to stern Duty's voice,
The much-loved man with all his claims resign,
And sacrifice delight at Duty's starine.

« AnteriorContinuar »