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Thus, Wittgenstein from the north, and Tchichagoff from the south, were marching to unite upon the French line of retreat between Smolensko and Wilna, while Napoleon still lay in fancied security amidst the ruins of Moscow.

When the French Emperor at last determined to retire, he, with his usual genius, selected a route which would lead him through a new and hitherto untraversed country. His design was to move from Moscow upon Kalouga, and establish himself there in the most productive district of Russia, from whence he could fall back, if necessary, to Smolensko, by the untouched road of Jelnia. He was preparing for this movement when an attack was made by Kutusoff upon Murat and Poniatowski at Winkowo. These generals were surprised in their cantonments by the Russians, and driven back with the loss of 2000 prisoners, 38 guns, and an eagle, and might have been entirely cut off had Kutusoff attacked with more vigour.

This check roused Napoleon. He rapidly concentrated his army, which had now wasted away to little more than 100,000 combatants present with the eagles, and set out from Moscow upon the 19th October. Two roads lead from thence to Kalouga-the old, which passed through Kutusoff's campat Taroutino; and the new, which led by Malo-Jaroslawitz. Napoleon set out upon the old one, but, after advancing along it for two days, he suddenly turned to the right, and gained by cross-roads the new route which led by Malo-Jaroslawitz.* The object of this skilful manoeuvre was to turn the flank of the Russian army, and reach Kalouga before them. But Milaradowitch, whose corps was in advance, and with whom Sir Robert Wilson was, divining the French Emperor's intentions, pushed on by a forced march, and reached Malo-Jaroslawitz, the most defensible point on the new road, just as the enemy's advanced guard entered it. Then (24th October) ensued one of the most

desperate combats of the whole war -Eugene, with his Italians, striving with the utmost energy to force the defile and clear the road to the land of promise beyond; Milaradowitch fighting to the death to hold the pass until Kutusoff could come up with the main army, and bar the further progress of the French. Hard indeed was the struggle which now ensued. The whole day, without intermission, the contest raged. Eleven times the town was taken and retaken, and it finally remained in the hands of the French. But Milaradowitch made good the marshy defile beyond until, between four and five in the afternoon, the dense columns of Kutusoff, who had slowly effected his flank march, arrived. The next day must decide the fate of the French army. Success would open to them the rich land of the south-defeat throw them back on the wasted line of the Smolensko road.

The Russians were busy during the night preparing for the coming battle, when about two o'clock in the morning the generals were summoned to a council.

circle, shortly acquainted them that he "Kutusoff, sitting in the midst of the had received information which had induced him to relinquish the intention of defending the ground in front of MaloJaroslawitz, and determined him to retire behind the Koricza to secure the road to Kalouga, and communication with the Oka.' This announcement was a thunderbolt that caused a momentary stupor."

The Russian generals and the English Commissioner remonstrated in the most earnest way against this determination-but in vain. To the latter Kutusoff replied:

"I don't care for your objections. I prefer giving my enemy a 'pont d'or' as you call it, to receiving a 'coup de that the total destruction of the Emperor collier' besides, I am by no means sure Napoleon and his army would be such a benefit to the world: his succession would not fall to Russia, or any other Continental power, but to that which already

Thiers is of opinion that it was only at this point (on leaving the old road) that Napoleon made up his mind to abandon Moscow, but this is opposed to the opinion of all the other French military writers, and can be supported only by indirect evidence. See Thiers, xiv. 467 note.

commands the sea, and whose dominion would then be intolerable."—(WILSON, 233, 234.)

This is one of the most curious and characteristic conversations given in the whole book, and sheds much light both on the extreme caution of the old Russian general, on the jealousy of the predominating influence of England felt by the Russian noblesse whom he represented, and on the share that jealousy had in rendering him unwilling to upset the balance of power in Europe by the entire destruction of Napoleon.


The next day the Russian army had fallen back to its new position, but Napoleon made no move. the day after, apparently daunted by the desperate defence which Milaradowitch had made, he gave up his plan of forcing a passage to Kalouga; made no attempt to reach Smolensko by the untraversed road of Medynsk and Jelnia, which lay open to him; but set out by the shortest and most direct, but utterly wasted and ruined, route to that place by Mojaisk and Wiazma. Thus both armies at the same time fell back from the smouldering remains of Malo-Jaroslawitz. This was a fatal step for Napoleon. It was better to have suffered any loss in forcing Kutusoff's new position than to have fallen back, without provisions or supplies of any sort in hand, along the utterly barren and devastated line of his former advance. But his generals were completely discouraged, and all, except Davoust, urged an instant retreat by the shortest route.


cavalry was in the most miserable state; not more than 12,000 retained their horses, and these were so wasted away that they were fit for no exertion-whilst artillery had to be abandoned at every step for want of horses to draw them. Napoleon yielded to the general discouragement, and marched upon Mojaisk.

Kutusoff detached in pursuit Milaradowitch, with his own corps and Paskewitch's, and Platoff with his Cossacks; but he moved with the main body of his army along a parallel line by Medynsk and Jelnia. This secured to him the immense advantage of marching his troops

through a virgin country, where provisions were plentiful and shelter could be procured, whilst it rendered any halt on the part of the enemy impossible, as his advance would always turn their position, and expose them to the danger of having their line of retreat cut off. Napoleon conducted his retreat not in one solid mass, but by successive corps, with the interval of a march between each. This course, rendered absolutely necessary from the want of magazines, and the difficulty of finding subsistence along the road, exposed the rear of the column to the greatest danger from a flank attack. Milaradowitch and Platoff followed the French with the most relentless fury, but their force, not amounting to more than 27,000 men, could not alone intercept their route. On the 4th November, Milaradowitch, by a flank movement, cut in between the rear-guard, consisting of Davoust's corps and that of Eugene, which was next to it, close to Wiazma. Eugene hastened back to disengage Davoust. Ney halted at Wiazma to support Eugene. Kutusoff was at this time at Biskowo, a short distance to the left: the thunder of the cannon on the main road was distinctly heard. Aide-de-camp after aide-de-camp arrived from Milaradowitch begging reinforcements, and promising decisive success. Benningsen and the other Russian generals entreated their commander to advance, or at least to send on a part of his force.

"The English General represented 'that even a division of cavalry with some flying artillery must embarrass the enemy, and perhaps might achieve a coupde-main in his rear of influential importance.' Kutusoff remained inflexible, only saying the time was not come.' —(WILSON, 245).

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He could easily, by pushing on to Wiazma, have established the whole of his army across the road beyond that town, and thus have cut off Ney, Eugene, and Davoust, or he might have supported Milaradowitch, and overwhelmed Davoust alone; but he would not run the risk. He left it to the slow but sure event of famine and the cold. Milaradowitch, in consequence, had to draw back from the main road, and content himself

with attacking the flank and rear of the French as they filed past. He inflicted on them a loss of 6000 men, 2000 of whom were prisoners. Napoleon now hastened on to Smolensko, when he hoped to be able to establish himself in winter quarters. At Dorogobouge he was met by intelligence of the conspiracy of Malet in Paris, which so nearly overturned the Imperial government, and by the most disastrous news from both his wings. Tchichagoff, with the army of Moldavia, had joined Tormasoff, driven back Reynier and Schwartzenberg, and, after leaving 25,000 men to watch them on the Polish frontier, was now marching with 35,000 upon the upper Beresina and his line of retreat; while on the other flank, St Cyr, who commanded Oudinot's corps and the Bavarians, had been driven by Wittgenstein from Polotsk and the line of the Dwina, and was falling back on the Oula, where he hoped to meet Victor, who had marched in haste to his support from Smolensko. Thus, from the north and the south the French Emperor's line of retreat was equally menaced. He despatched the most pressing orders to Victor to unite with Oudinot's corps and drive back Wittgenstein on Polotsk; and to Schwartzenberg to hasten by forced marches after Tchichagoff; while, still further to secure his flank on the side of the Dwina, he directed Eugene to quit the Grand Army and march across the country to Witepsk, on that river.

But a worse enemy even than the Russians was now at hand. The winter was about to set in. It is a

circumstance, however, worthy of the utmost attention in estimating the real cause of the ruin of the French army, to note what is now admitted both by Thiers and Chambray, from the evidence of official documents, that at Dorogobouge, before the fatal cold set in, the effectives of the Grand Army, which had crossed the Niemen 420,000 strong, fought at Borodino 133,000, and left Moscow 100,000, had sunk down to 50,000 combatants, followed by an unarmed crowd of camp followers and stragglers to about the same amount. This is a point of such importance that we

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"Il n'y avait que le canon qui rendit l'honneur, la dignité, le courage a ces soldats extenués. Tous les blessés avaient été délaissés, et des soldats alliés, dont nous ne designerons pas ici le corps, chargés d'escorter les prisonniers russes, s'en débarrassaient en leur cassant la tête à coups de fusil. Quiconque était atteint de cette contagion d'egoïsme si générale, si tristement frappante dans les grandes calamités, ne songeant qu'a soi, desertant ses rangs pour chercher à vivre, allait accroître la foule errante et désarmée qui etait en sortant de Dorogobouge de 50 mille individus environ, compris les fugitifs de Moscou et les conducteurs de bagages. Plus de dix mille soldats etaient déjà morts sur les routes. restait à peine cinquante mille hommes sous les armes. Toute la cavalerie, excepté celle de la garde, etait démontée." (THIERS, xiv. 513.)

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The description of the setting in of the cold, and of the sufferings of the French army, is one of the most terribly striking parts of Sir Robert's work. No one but an eyewitness could have given the thrilling touches which almost make us shudder :

"On the morning of the 4th (November), as has been noted, snow had first fallen in large flakes so as to cover the soil. On the 5th the quantity increased considerably. On the 6th rose that razor-cutting wind which hardened the snow and made it sparkle as it fell like small diamonds, whilst the air, under the effect of its contracting action, was filled with a continual ringing sound. The atmosphere seemed to be rarified till it became quite crisp and brittle. fatigue, sickness, and wounds, were ill The enemy, already afflicted by hunger, prepared for this new though always certain calamity. From this time a state of feeling prevailed that denaturalised humanity a general recklessness pervaded all-a callousness to every consideration but selfish momentary relief, with one honourable exception in favour of the French, who, when captive, could not be induced by any temptation, by any threats, by any privations, to cast of their misfortunes and sufferings. The reproach on their Emperor as the cause famished, dying of hunger, refused food, rather than utter an injurious word against their chief, to indulge and humour vindictive inquirers. With this

route, and that he was then about completing his number again.' "—(WILSON, 257.)

One more example, and we have done.

exception, rage appeared to madden all. The maniacs tore away the clothing of their own companions when they were to be abandoned. If any food was found, they turned their arms against each other. They repulsed with force every one who endeavoured to share their bivouac-fire when one could be lighted, and they mercilessly killed every prisoner. Nor was the Russian peasant, victim of the enemy's fury in his advance as well as retreat, less ferociously savage."-(WILSON, 253, 254.)

But the treatment of the prisoners almost exceeds belief, from its barbarity:

"All prisoners were immediately and invariably stripped stark naked, and marched in columns in that state, or turned adrift to be the sport and the victims of the peasantry, who would not always let them, as they sought to do, point and hold the muzzles of the guns against their own heads or hearts, to terminate their suffering in the most certain and expeditious manner; for the peasantry thought that this mitigation of torture would be an offence against the avenging God of Russia, and deprive them of His further protection.' A remarkable instance of this cruel spirit of retaliation was exhibited on the pursuit to Wiazma. Milaradowitch, Benningsen, Korf, and the English General, with various others, were proceeding on the high-road about a mile from the town, where they found a crowd of peasant women, with sticks in their hands, hopping round a felled pine-tree, on each side of which lay about sixty naked prisoners prostrate, but with their heads on the tree, which those furies were striking in accompaniment to a national air or song which they were yelling in concert; while several hundred armed peasants were quietly looking on as guardians of the direful orgies. When the cavalcade approached, the sufferers uttered piercing shrieks, and kept incessantly crying, 'La mort, la mort, la mort.'-(WILSON, 256.)


"When General Benningsen and the English General, with their staffs, were one afternoon on the march, they fell in

with a column of seven hundred naked prisoners under a Cossack escort: this column, according to the certificate given on starting, had consisted of twelve hundred and fifty men, and the commandant stated that he had twice re

newed it, as the original party dropped off, from the prisoners he collected en

"The clinging of the dogs to their masters' corpses was most remarkable and interesting. At the commencement of the retreat, at a village near Selino, a detachment of fifty of the enemy had been surprised. The peasants resolved to bury them alive in a pit: a drummer boy bravely led the devoted party, and sprang into the grave. A dog belonging

to one of the victims could not be secured; every day, however, the dog went to the neighbouring camp, and came back with a bit of food in his mouth, to sit and moan over the newlyturned earth. It was a fortnight before he could be killed by the peasants, afraid of discovery."-(WILSON, 260.)

To the honour of humanity it must be stated that, on the English General's urgent representation of this frightful state of things, the Emperor Alexander took the most vigorous steps to check these horrors, by proder threat of the severest punishhibiting the murder of prisoners unment, and by ordering a ducat in gold to be paid for every prisoner handed over safe to the civil authority-unfortunately, however, with too little effect.

Eugene's cross-movement towards Witepsk proved most unfortunate. Harassed by the Cossacks, decimated by the cold, he had to abandon his whole artillery, baggage, and sick, on the swollen banks of the Wop, and soon after learned that the point of his destination was in the hands of the enemy. He then returned to Smolensko, where he arrived on the 13th in the most miserable plight. Napoleon meanwhile had arrived on the 9th at Smolensko, and occupied himself in reorganising and feeding his army from the magazines there. But no protracted stay could be made. Kutusoff was sweeping round his right flank, and might anticipate him on the Dnieper. Victor and Oudinot had been unable to arrest Wittgenstein's movement, and Tchichagoff was rapidly approaching the town of Minsk, on his direct line of retreat, and where all his principal stores and magazines had been collected. On

the 14th, accordingly, he set out from Smolensko with his Guard. Eugene was to follow next, then Davoust, Ney to bring up the rear, each upon successive days. The army now numbered about 42,000 men present with the eagles, and 30,000 stragglers.*

The direct road from Smolensko to Wilna passes through Orcha on the Dnieper. Less than half-way between Smolensko and Orcha is situated the small town of Krasnoi. Through this point Napoleon must retire upon this point Kutusoff was now marching. Here the two main armies would come into collision, and Napoleon might be utterly destroyed, for he was advancing by successive corps, while Kutusoff moved as a whole, and the latter had 50,000 regular troops, the former not more than 40,000. The force of the Russian army we have put down at 50,000, being the number which Boutourlin gives it at. Wilson says it was 80,000 strong. This, however, seems evidently to be a miscalculation. The Russians suffered greatly during their pursuit of the French. They lost 10,000 men at Malo-Jaroslawitz; they abandoned the active pursuit one march beyond Krasnoi, and yet reached Wilna only 35,000 strong. Upon these points all are agreed. Should Sir Robert's estimate be correct, the Russian army hardly fell off at all between Malo-Jaroslawitz and Krasnoi, while it was engaged with and pursuing the enemy; but suddenly after it had given up the pursuit, and was slowly moving on Wilna, it sank down from 80,000 to 35,000; in other words, suffered a loss of 45,000 men. This is quite incredible. Boutourlin's estimate, who makes it leave Malo-Jaroslawitz 80,000, reach Krasnoi 50,000, and Wilna 35,000 strong, bears internal evidence of probability and truth. In reconciling these conflicting statements, it must be borne in mind that Wilson seems to include the Cossacks (nearly 20,000 in number) in his estimate, and Boutourlin to exclude them in his.t

Napoleon reached Krasnoi on the

15th November with his Guard, and Kutusoff brought his whole army up to Jourowa, on his right, within a short march of that place. He could easily have anticipated Napoleon, but he would not do so, and would only allow Milaradowitch to advance and cannonade his flank. The next day Kutusoff brought up his army to Chilowa, close to Krasnoi, where Napoleon lay; while Milaradowitch, on the high-road between that place and Smolensko, almost destroyed Eugene's corps. On the 17th, Napoleon sallied out from Krasnoi to meet Davoust, and offered battle to the whole Russian army. Kutusoff, whose men were drawn out in complete array, waiting with impatience for the signal to engage, would not give the order. Hour after hour passed by. Davoust, severely pressed in flank and rear by Milaradowitch, came up. Gallitzin, who commanded in the Russian centre, executed some vigorous charges without orders. But Tormasoff's column on the left, which might have occupied the Orcha road, and intercepted the French line of retreat, was not allowed to stir. In vain Benningsen, from the Russian centre, sent aide-de-camp after aidede-camp to Kutusoff to report—

"Its success, and the certain destrucmovement to be made as originally protion of the enemy, if he would admit the posed.

To the English General, who had also quitted Benningsen to implore his consent to the advance of the army, and who had represented to him 'that Napoleon, his Guards, and what remained of his invading force, were now in his power-who had pledged himself from his own observation, that by the single word march the war would be finished within one hour,' he only drily Jaroslawitz.'" (WILSON, 273.) observed, You had my answer at Malo

It was not till two o'clock in the afternoon that he would allow Tormasoff to move, and the general advance to take place. But it was then too late. Napoleon, who had offered battle only to save Davoust, the moment that officer joined him commenced his retreat, and, filing rapidly

Thiers says only 37,000 in the ranks; Chambray gives 49,000; Wilson 45,000; Alison 42,000-the latter number seems, on the whole, the most probable.

+ Compare Boutourlin, ii. 232, with Wilson, 266.



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