Puslapio vaizdai

At the opening of the Russian campaign the gradual change which had been steadily going on in Napoleon's physique was complete. He was now plethoric, and slow in all his movements. Occasionally there were exhibitions of quickened sensibility, which have been interpreted as symptoms of hysteroepilepsy; but in general his senses, like his expression, were dull. He had premonitions of a painful disease (dysuria), which soon developed fully. His lassitude was noticeable, and when he roused himself it was often for trivialities. In other campaigns he had stolen away from Paris in military simplicity; this time he had brought the pomp of a court. He planned, too, to bring theater companies and opera troupes to the very seat of war. Above all, he was deeply concerned with his imperial state, having in his trunks the baubles and dress he had worn at his coronation in Notre Dame. His mien was haughty, but there was no sparkle in his eye; he seemed spiritless and ailing; he showed no pride or confidence in his magnificent army. Yet careful study will prove that his sagacity as a great captain was in no way dimmed; his military combinations were greater than any he had ever formed. As no parallel to the numbers engaged in this enterprise can be found except in Oriental story, nothing comparable to its organization can be found in the history of any age. Every corps had its ammunition train, and great reserves of supplies were stored in Modlin, Thorn, Pillau, Dantzic, and Magdeburg. In the two last-named arsenals were siege-trains for beleaguering Dünaburg and Riga. There were pontoons and bridge material in abundance; 1350 field-pieces, and 18,000 horses to draw them. The commissary stores were prodigious, and there were thousands of ox-wagons to transport them. In various convenient strongholds there were, besides, stores for 400,000 men for fifty days. Knowing Russia, he had prepared to conquer streams and morasses, to feed the army without fear of a devastating population, and to trust the seat of war for nothing except forage. His strategic plan was amazing, containing, as it did, the old elements of unexpected concentration, of breaking through the opposing line, of conclusive victory, and occupation of the enemy's capital. It was carried also to successful completion, and against tremendous obstacles. The first season he intended to seize Minsk and Smolensk, winterthere, and organize his conquests. If this should not produce a peace, he would advance in the following season in the heart of the country, and there await the Czar's surrender.


WHEN Napoleon left Dresden his force was so disposed that the Russians could not tell whether he meant to strike from north or south, and accordingly they divided theirs, Barclay de Tolly, with 127,000 men, standing before Vilna, Bagration, with 66,000, ensconcing himself behind the swamps of the upper Pripet in Volhynia. Barclay hoped to strike a sharp, swift blow, and open the campaign with a moral victory, but he was soon convinced of the danger in which he was, and called in Bagration, who was to be replaced by an auxiliary force. Napoleon's first move was to cross the Niemen, and seize Vilna. Barclay fell back to the fortified camp established at Drissa in order to cover St. Petersburg. If then Jerome's division had promptly advanced from Grodno, Bagration would have been cut off and annihilated. The plan failed through Jerome's ignorance, slowness, and self-assertion. Bagration turned back, and, descending the Dnieper, placed himself beyond pursuit. For a moment Napoleon contemplated a junction of Ney and Eugène against Barclay, but the former had pushed on to seize Dünaburg, and was out of reach. Both plans failed; Bagration, by a long detour, established communication with Drissa, and seemed likely to effect a junction with Barclay on the road to Smolensk. As in these movements both the Russian commanders had lost many men, there would be only 120,000 in the united force. The Czar could raise no money, Drissa was painfully inadequate as a bulwark, and the Russians grew desperate. The nation attributed its sorry plight to the bad advice of the Czar's German counselors, and such was the demoralization at the capital that Alexander was compelled to hasten thither in order to avert complete disaster. In spite of his personal unpopularity, he met with considerable success. The nobility and burghers of both St. Petersburg and Moscow caught the war fever, opened their coffers, equipped a numerous militia, and by the end of July all Russia was hopeful and eager for battle.

This, too, was the earnest desire of Napoleon. If the Russian army in its own territory shriveled as it did before the summer heat by sickness and desertion, it may be imagined how that of the French dwindled. Their terrible sufferings could be ended only by a battle, and since crossing the Niemen the soldiers longed for a battle as for a festival. Heat, dust, and drought wrought havoc in their columns; the pitiless Northern sun left

men and animals with little resisting power; the flying inhabitants devastated their fields, the horses and oxen gorged themselves on the half-rotten thatch of the abandoned huts, and died by the wayside; the gasping soldiery had no food but flesh. Dysentery raged, and soldiers died like flies. For a time St. Cyr's Bavarian corps lost from 800 to 900 men a day, and it was an exception only in the degree of its losses. Such facts account for the dilatoriness of Napoleon's movements in part; for the rest, his imperial plans demanded that he should organize all the territories in his rear, and he gave himself the utmost pains to do so. Besides, he had never before had a task so heroic in all its dimensions, and every detail of military and political procedure required time and care in fullest measure, the more so when preparing for a decisive, uncommon battle.

Vitebsk and Smolensk occupy analogous positions on the Dwina and Dnieper, the former of which is to the westward and flows north; the latter, farther inland, flows in the opposite direction into the very heart of Russia. Barclay had planned to await Bagration at Vitebsk, and Napoleon, arriving on July 27, hoped for a decisive battle there. But Davout's movements drove Bagration farther eastward, and Barclay, instead of waiting, hurried to Smolensk, where the junction was effected. This compulsory pursuit had, as communications then were, thrown the extreme wings of Napoleon's army virtually out of reach, the Prussians being near Riga, and the Austrians in Volhynia. The long, thin line of his center must be, therefore, drawn in for safety, and since the character of the country had improved, he determined to concentrate near Vitebsk, and recuperate his troops in the comparatively pleasant land which environs it. Both commander and officers were at first so disheartened that they contemplated remaining for the season, Murat alone remonstrating; but Napoleon said three years were necessary for the Russian war. Such counsels did not long prevail; with new strength came the old daring, and orders were sent both to Macdonald and the Prussians on the left, and to the Austrians under Schwarzenberg on the right, which were indicative of a great project. Napoleon's prestige among the Poles had in fact shrunk along with his army. The latter he could not recruit, but the former he must repair at any hazard; this could be done only by what he designated to Jomini as a good battle.» The success of the minor engagements to right and left, incident to concentration, was

encouraging for such a speedy and overwhelming triumph.

The Russians at Smolensk were vainglorious at having outwitted Napoleon, and longed to fight. Barclay alone was uneasy, but, in deference to the prevalent sentiment, he advanced to offer battle, and on August 9 there was a skirmish between pickets. Napoleon at once set his army in motion, but as neither general was really well-informed or prepared, Barclay pushed on to the right, and the two armies lost touch. Once aroused, the French spirit brooked no further delay, and it was determined to seek the "good battle » before Smolensk, which, lying on the right, or north, bank of the Dnieper, could be reached only by crossing the stream. This manoeuver was brilliantly executed. Barclay was a day's march distant on the south bank when Ney and Murat deployed on the other side for action on August 16. Bagration, nearer at hand, threw one corps across the river into the town, and then hurried his main force down-stream to oppose its passage by the French. The first attempt of Ney to storm the thick but dilapidated walls of Smolensk failed, and a bombardment was ordered. By evening of the 17th the French army were all drawn up on the north bank between the city and the river; the Russians were opposite on the heights. During the night of the 17th the Russian army began to cross the Dnieper by the permanent bridge, which they held; a fresh garrison was thrown into Smolensk, and at four in the morning of the 18th the van began to retreat toward Moscow. Napoleon, thinking that of course Barclay would offer battle under the walls of the town, waited until afternoon for the expected appearance of his foe, but in vain. Puzzled and uneasy, he determined to force the fighting by a fresh assault. The suburbs were captured late in the evening, but the walls were impregnable. Barclay then set fire to the quarter opposite that attacked by the French, and in the resulting confusion safely drew out his garrison; the next morning saw his rear well beyond Napoleon's reach, with the bridges destroyed behind it. On the 23d he halted and drew up for battle behind the Uscha. Technically Napoleon had won, since an important frontier fortress was captured; but he had not fought his great battle, nor had he cut off his enemy's retreat. Ney and Murat were despatched in pursuit, but they acted recklessly, without concert, and gave the first exhibition of a demoralization destined later to be disastrous. Murat, in fact, had foreseen that an affair at Smolensk would amount to nothing,

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


and had begged Napoleon to avoid a conflict. Rapp came in after the victory, and likewise pleaded with the Emperor to desist, recalling the awful scenes of distress which he had observed at every step since leaving the Niemen. But Napoleon remembered that his transport barges had been wrecked on the river bars, and that his wagon-trains were without horses or oxen to draw them. The counterfeit paper money he had brought from Paris would no longer pass; where was he to find sustenance for his still numerous force of 185,000 men at least? Only by pressing on to some populous city; and on the 24th his army was in motion eastward. If Alexander could be brought to terms he would yield more quickly with one of his capitals in the enemy's grasp. The French base was secure; there were garrisons of about 14,000 men each in Vitebsk, Orscha, and Mohileff; another was left at Smolensk. The line from the Niemen to Moscow was very long, yet Schwarzenberg was on the right to prevent Tormassoff from breaking through, and Wittgenstein on the left was too weak to be a menace. This reasoning proved to be fallacious, because the Russians were constantly increasing their strength, while that of the French, both on the base of operations and on the line of march, was diminishing. The Austrian


[ocr errors]

J. Hart J. C. N.J.

troops, moreover, behaved toward Russia as the Russian soldiers had behaved toward Austria in the last campaign; that is, as a friendly exploring guard, and not as hostile invaders. It is now easy to say that to lengthen the French line of operation was a military blunder. It was wrong. The reasons are partly strategic, but chiefly moral, and were not so clearly discernible then. The strength of Russian national feeling was unknown to Napoleon, and, in the face of national feeling, a single man, world-conqueror though he may have been during a period of national disorganization, is before the march of national regeneration an object of microscopic size.

Barclay was charged by the old Russians with being too German in feeling, with manoeuvering timidly when he ought to fight, and, sacrilege of sacrileges, with leaving the sacred image of the Virgin at Smolensk to fall into hostile hands. Yielding to the storm of popular feeling, Alexander appointed in his stead Kutusoff, the darling of the conservative Slavonic party; but Barclay was persuaded to remain, and his policy was sustained. The Russians withdrew before the French advance, until, on September 3, their van halted on the right bank of the Kalatscha, opposite Borodino, to strike the decisive

blow in defense of Moscow. On the 4th Napoleon's van attacked and drove before it the Russian rear, which was just closing in. He had 128,000 men within reach. That night he issued a ringing address; recalling Austerlitz, he summoned the soldiers to behave so that future generations would say of each, «He was in that great battle under the walls of Moscow.» Next morning a courier arrived, bringing a portrait of the little King of Rome. The Emperor hung it before his tent, and invited his officers to admire it. But at night the sinister news of Marmont's defeat at Salamanca arrived. Napoleon said nothing, but was heard in self-communing to deplore the barbarity of war. All night he seemed restless, fearing lest the Russians should elude him as they had in other crises; but rising at five, and discerning their lines, he called aloud: «They are ours at last. March on; let us open the gates of Moscow.»

in the morning the artillery opened. Poniatowski advanced, was checked, but, supported by Ney, stood firm until Junot came in; they two then stood together, while Ney and Davout dashed at the enemy's center. Eugène having acted in perfect concert, Poniatowski then advanced alone, and his task was completed by nine. But he was so weakened by his terrific exertions that he could only hold what he had gained. At ten Ney and Davout, reinforced by Friant, seized the central redoubts, but they, too, were exhausted, and could only hold the Russian line, which bent inward and stood without breaking. Eugène then massed his whole division, and charged. The resistance was stubborn, and the fighting terrific, but by three his opponents yielded, his artillery opened, and he held his gains. About the same time Junot reached Poniatowski, and their combined exertions finally overpowered the Russian left. So superhuman had been the exertions of both armies that they rested on their arms in these relative positions all night, the Russians too exhausted to flee, the French too weary to pursue. But early on the 7th the flight of Kutusoff began, and the French started in pursuit. Between the generals of the Russian rear and those of Napoleon's van an agreement was made that if the former were left to pass through Moscow unmolested, the latter should gain the city without a blow. The contracting parties kept their pact; but the governor of Moscow rendered the agreement void. Great crowds of the inhabitants joined the Russian columns, as, six days later, they marched between the rows of inflammable wooden houses, of which the suburbs were composed, and, as they tramped sullenly onward, thin pillars of ascending smoke began to appear here and there on the outer lines. But when, two hours after the last Russian soldier had disappeared, the cavalry of Murat clattered through the streets, the fires attracted little attention, nor at the moment was Napoleon's contentment diminished by them, as, from the «mount of salutation,» whence pious pilgrims were wont to greet the holy city, he ordered his guard to advance and occupy the Kremlin, that fortress which enshrines all that is holiest in Russian faith. Kutusoff, boasting that he had held his ground overnight, had persuaded the inhabitants of Moscow, and even The battle was conducted almost to the the Czar, that he had been the victor, and that letter of these orders, but such was Russian he was withdrawing merely to await the arvalor that, instead of being a brilliant manœu- rival of the victorious and veteran legions from ver, it developed into a bloody face-to-face the Danube, when he would choose his field, and conflict, determined by sheer force. At six annihilate the invaders.

The Russians, roused by religious fervor, and elevated by a fatalistic premonition of success, had thrown up trenches and redoubts at advantageous points on their chosen battle-field. In their first onset they advanced like devotees, with the cry, «God have mercy upon us!» and, as each forward rank went down before the relentless invaders, those behind pressed forward over the bodies of their comrades. But it was all in vain; throughout the 4th and 5th of September one outpost after another was taken, until at ten in the evening of the latter day the whole Russian force was thrown back on its main position, stretching from the bank of the Moskwa on the north, behind the Kalatscha, as far as Utizy on the south, such portions as were not naturally sheltered being protected by strong redoubts. There were 120,000 in all, of which about 17,000 were un-uniformed peasantry. Opposite stood the French, Poniatowski on the right, Davout, with the guard, in the rear, then Eugène. Behind Davout, to the left, Ney, and somewhat behind, in the same line, Junot. The orders were for an opening cannonade, Poniatowski to surround the Russian left, Eugène to cross the Kalatscha by three bridges thrown over during the night, and attack the Russian right, while Morand and Gérard, his auxiliaries, should move on the center, and storm the defenses erected there.

(To be continued.)

William M. Sloane.



ISS TODD entered the editorial room of the «Evening Appeal and came over to my desk. She was from Kentucky, and a "society reporter, doing work for various papers, the «Appeal » among others. She was pretty, in the fair, rounded, simple way one sees in so many Kentucky girls. Miss Todd's girlishness was a little worn by time and journalism, but her Kentuckyism was delightfully fresh in spots, and showed now even in her toilet, which was too light and too blue and too much decorated to look indigenous.

«Miss Addington, I want to ask you about something,» she said-and for the dearness of it I would like to indicate her Southern speech, her long, flat vowels and clipped consonants, but only Mr. Cable could do it well. «I can't be reading the Appeal all the time, and Mr. Mattison is always so cross if you don't know everything about his paper. Do tell me, what stand are you taking about that Sam Hartley investigation? >>

[ocr errors]

"We say he stole the railroad and will go to the penitentiary, and that hanging is too good for him. Is he going to give a ball for you to write up?»

«Well,» began Miss Todd, simply, it's not exactly that; but I've found out that his wife would like to be written up, though she has n't known how to go about it. She is a nice, plain, respectable woman, and she feels terribly about all this business. She's very pious and charitable, and all that; and she feels like it would be something for Mr. Hartley if the papers took some notice of her. No one has ever looked at her in New York, far as I can find out, except to go to her for money. I'm going to make a feature of her for a Sunday or two. Do you know what papers are on his side?»

I mentioned one in which Mr. Sam Hartley was supposed to have a controlling financial interest, stating that fact.

«She's so simple I don't reckon she even knows that," said Miss Todd. «She's the countriest of the country; the kind of woman who wears white stockings-I saw them myself. I like her, and then I want to get her to do something for a friend of mine.>>

«Oh,» I said, "it's a deal, is it? » «Yes, I reckon so, specially as I want my friend to do me a good turn too. Have you

done your story on the Chinese Bureau of Information yet? >>

«Yes, it's in type; but talking of good turns, I want one of you. Mattison has a notion for a special about how a young woman doctor gets into practice here in New York. It does n't seem very fresh, or as if there were much in it anyway; but it 's his own idea, so it's got to be brilliant. I don't know any women doctors myself; do you?» Miss Todd was smiling.

«Why," she said, "it's a woman doctora young one, too. She 's our doctor, and I 'most know she 'd->>

Miss Todd hesitated, and I asked, «Can she talk? »

"Well, she never does talk, but she'd be good about answering; and she's seen a lot, and she 's very nice.»

It further appeared that this medical lady -Parsons was her name-was a frequent visitor of the house of Todd, for Mrs. Todd was an invalid; and it was arranged that I should be at hand the next day, when she was expected upon professional businessthis in order that I might judge for myself as to the chance of getting any «stuff » from her.

I was well pleased to take the opportunity of visiting Mrs. Todd. I liked Mrs. Todd, and I was greatly flattered that she liked me; not that I deceived myself with the notion that there was anything very personal about that. Mrs. Todd combined, in a way I have noted as peculiarly Southern, the ability for free thought with a rooted conservatism; and despite all my inevitable modernity, what she liked about me was some appeal I made to her unreflective prejudices-the one in favor of Southerners, to begin with.

The door of her small flat was opened to me, after a period of probation, by Mrs. Todd herself-Mrs. Todd in the clean, loose calico gown that was her usual wear.

<< Araminta did n't seem disposed to let you in, so I came myself,» she panted-she was fat and short of breath. «Araminta is uncommonly hard on us to-day»-plaintively«I'm sure I don't know what we 've done.»

By way of talk I asked if this was the same person-personage-as the Araminta of the month before-the name was a generic one with Mrs. Todd.

«Yes,» she answered, seating herself in her arm-chair; «she has n't gone yet. Sue is out; she was very sorry, and told me to apologize

« AnkstesnisTęsti »