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24, 1812, a treaty between France and Prussia was signed, which gave Prussia nothing, but exacted from her 20,000 men for active service, with 42,000 for garrison duty, and afforded the French armies free course through her territories, with the right to charge such requisitions as were made to the war indemnity. To this pass Alexander's narrowness had brought the proud, regenerated nation; its temper can be imagined.
French diplomacy, triumphant elsewhere, was less successful with Sweden. Alexander offered Norway as the price of alliance, with hints of the crown of France for Bernadotte somewhere in the dim future. Napoleon temptingly offered Finland for 40,000 Swedish soldiers. But the new crown prince was seemingly coy, and dallied with both. This temporizing was brought to a sudden end in January, 1812, when Davout occupied Swedish Pomerania. On April 12 the alliance between Sweden and Russia was sealed. It carried with it an armistice between Russia and Great Britain. This was essential to the Czar, for he would be compelled to withdraw his troops from the Danube for service in the North, and to that end must make some arrangement with Turkey. He found little or no unwillingness, and offered the most favorable terms; Napoleon, on the other hand, demanded 100,000 men if he were to restore to the Sublime Porte all it had lost. England threatened to bombard Constantinople if the Sultan hesitated, and on May 28, 1812, he closed a bargain with Russia which gave him the Pruth as a frontier.
In spite of Turkey's submission, Great Britain was not to be left passive. The neutrality of the United States had, on the whole, been successfully maintained, but their commerce suffered. On May 1, 1810, Congress enacted that trade with Great Britain should be forbidden if France revoked her decrees, and vice versa. Madison and the Republicans believed that this would relieve the strain under which farmers, as well as merchants, were now suffering. This enabled Napoleon, in those days of slow communication, to make a pretense of relaxing the Berlin and Milan decrees, while continuing to seize American ships as before. England was not for a moment deceived, and enforced the orders in council with added indignities. This conduct so exasperated the American people that they demanded war with the oppressor, and on June 19 the war of 1812 began. Napoleon's diplomatic juggling had been entirely successful.
A year earlier the princes of the Rhenish
Confederation had received their orders. Their peoples were unresponsive, but the zeal of the rulers overcame all opposition. The King of Saxony was grateful in a lively sense of favors to come, and his grand duchy of Warsaw became an armed camp, the Poles themselves expecting their national resurrection. The prince primate's realm was erected into a grand duchy for Eugène, whose viceroyalty was destined for the little King of Rome, and under the stimulus of a fresh nationality the people gave more than was demanded. Würtemberg and Baden learned that Napoleon «preferred enemies to uncertain friends,» and both found means to supply their respective quotas. Jerome, true to the fraternal instincts of the Bonapartes, hesitated; but his queen was a woman of sound sense, and both were alive to the uncertainties of tenure in royal office, so that, receiving a peremptory summons, Westphalia fell into line. Bavaria and Switzerland furnished their contingents as a matter of course. Among the Germans, some hated Napoleon for his dealings with the papacy, some as the destroyer of their petty nationalities; some devout Protestants even thought him the antichrist. But the great majority were in a state of expectancy, many realizing that even the dynastic politics of Europe had been vitalized by his advent; others, liberals like Goethe, Wieland, and Dalberg, hoped for the complete extinction of feudalism and dynasticism before his march.
This had already been accomplished in France, and for that reason the peasantry and the townsfolk upheld the Empire. In Paris the upper classes had never forgotten the Terror, and were ready for monarchy in any form if only it brought a settled order and peace. There were still a few radicals and many royalists, but the masses cared only for two things, glory and security. They enjoyed the temporary repose under a rule which protected the family, property, and in a certain sense even religion. Family life at the Tuileries was a model, the Emperor finding his greatest pleasure in domestic amusements, playing billiards, riding, driving, and even romping, with his young wife, while his tenderness for the babe was phenomenal. Still he was no puritan, and the lapsed classes could indulge themselves in vice if only they paid; from their purses fabulous sums were turned into the Emperor's secret funds. Under the Continental system industry was at a standstill, and every household felt the privation of abstaining from the free use of sugar and other colonial wares. There was,
however, general confidence in speedy relief, and there were worse things than waiting. The peasantry were weary of seeing their soldier sons return from hard campaigning with neither glory nor booty, and began to resent the conscription law, which tore the rising generation from home while yet boys. Desertions became so frequent that a terrible law was passed, making, first the family, then the commune, and lastly the district, responsible for the missing men. It was enforced mercilessly by bodies of riders known as «flying columns. Finally every able-bodied male was enrolled for military service in three classes-ban, second ban, and rear ban, the last including all between forty and sixty. Nevertheless, and in spite of all other hardships, there was much enthusiasm at the prospect of a speedy change for the better. In March, 1812, Napoleon could count 475,000 men ready for the field.
THE CONGRESS OF KINGS.
READY, at least to outward appearance, Napoleon was in truth ready as far as equipment, organization, commissariat, strategic plan, and every nice detail of official forethought could go. But how about the efficiency and zeal of men and officers? There had been murmurings for some years past. His studies in 1808 were the eastern campaigns of Rome; Lannes had warned him in 1809 how ready many of his most trusted servants were to betray him if he continued his career of conquest; Decrès, another true friend, expressed his anxiety in 1810 lest they should all be thrown into a final horrid elemental crash; and in 1811 Regnaud de Saint-Jean-d'Angely exclaimed, «The unhappy man will undo himself, undo us all, undo everything.» The Emperor heard neither of these last forebodings, but is doubtfully reported to have himself declared, "I am driven onward to a goal which I know not.» Caulaincourt made no secret of how his anxiety increased as he knew Russia better. Poniatowski believed Lithuania would refuse to rise against her despot; Ségur and Duroc foresaw that France, if degraded to be but one province of a great empire, would lose her enthusiasm; even Fouché drew up a memorial against war, and instanced the fate of Charles XII. The contents of Fouché's paper were divulged to Napoleon by a spy, and when the author presented it he was met by contemptuous sarcasm. The Emperor believed Prussia to be helpless, chiding Davout for his doleful reports of the new temper which had been developed. Jomini declared,
but long afterward, that the great captain had avowed to a confidential friend his eagerness for the excitement of battle.
But, in spite of the anxiety felt by a few leading Frenchmen, there was general confidence, and it was not until after the catastrophe that details like those enumerated were recalled. In reality the outlook in 1812 was better than in 1809. Napoleon's spirits were higher, his conscripts were not visibly worse than any drafted since the beginning of the Consulate, and the veteran Coignet's remark concerning the march to Russia is that « Providence and courage never abandon the good soldier.» As to the commander-inchief, he had largely abandoned his licentious courses, partly from reasons of policy, partly because of his sincere attachment to wife and child. Throughout the years of youth and early manhood he had indulged his amorous passions, but not a single woman had been preferred to power, not even Josephine. But Maria Louisa was an imperial consort, for whom no attention, no elevation, was too great. Pliant while an Austrian archduchess, she remained so as empress, apparently without will or enterprise. Men felt, nevertheless, that, remaining an Austrian externally, she was probably still one at heart, perhaps a mere lure thrown out to keep the hawk from other quarry. Certainly Napoleon's domestic happiness had not sapped his moral power; possibly it rendered him over-anxious at times, and, perhaps, in revulsion from anxiety over-confident.
During two years of diplomatic fencing the initiative had been Russian, the instigation French. For the war which followed no single cause can be assigned. Some blamed Napoleon, claiming that with his scheme of universal empire it was inevitable; Metternich said Russia had brought on war in an unpardonable manner. The Tilsit alliance was personal; separation inevitably weakened it. The affiliations of the Russian aristocracy with the Austrian; the smart of both under the Continental system, which rendered their agriculture unprofitable; England's stand under Castlereagh; the Oldenburg question-all these were cumulative in their effect. With Alexander, Poland and the Continental system were the real difficulties; the marriage question was only secondary. In January, 1812, the Czar laid down his ultimatum. To the concentration of Russian troops Napoleon had replied by sending his own to Erfurt and Magdeburg. The Czar declared his readiness to take back his move if the Emperor would withdraw his men; he would even accept Erfurt for Olden
burg, and permit Warsaw to be the capital of a Saxon province. But he said not a word about the Continental system, and for Napoleon to permit the breach of that would be to abandon all his imperial plans. With the hope, apparently, of securing this last essential concession, as well as those already made, he set his troops in motion toward the Vistula on the very day after his treaty with Prussia was signed.
The natural countermove to Napoleon's advance would be the invasion of Warsaw, and, although the new Poland was fortified for defense, yet it might be overwhelmed before assistance could reach the garrisons. More over, there were ominous signs in France at the opening of 1812. Food supplies were scarce, and speculators were buying such as there were. Napoleon felt he must remain yet a little while to check such an outrage and to strengthen public confidence. Ostensibly to avoid a final rupture, but really to prevent the premature opening of war, he therefore summoned Czernicheff, the Czar's aide-decamp, who, as a kind of licensed spy, had been hovering near him for three years past, and offered to accept every item of the Russian ultimatum, if only an equitable treaty of commerce could be substituted for the ukase of December, 1810; in other words, if Alexander would agree to observe the letter and spirit of the Continental system. During the two months intervening before the Czar's reply Napoleon's armies flowed on, and a temporary remedy for the economic troubles of France was found. When, late in April, the answer came, it was, as expected, a declaration that without the neutral trade Russia could not live; she would modify the ukase somewhat, but, as a condition antecedent to peace, France must evacuate Prussia and make better terms with Sweden. On May 1 the French army reached the Vistula; on May 9 Napoleon and his consort started for Dresden.
The surge of German patriotism had nearly drowned Napoleon in 1809. The Austrian marriage had withdrawn the house of Hapsburg from the leadership of Germany; the imperial progress to Dresden, and the high imperial court held there, were intended to dazzle the masses of Europe, possibly to intimidate the Czar. The French were genuinely enthusiastic; the Germans displayed no spite; princes, potentates, and powers swelled the train; all the monarchs of the coalition, under Francis as dean of the corps, stood in array to receive the august Emperor. Maria Louisa was as haughty as the Western Empress
should be, patronizing her father and stepmother, boasting how superior the civilization of Paris was to that of Vienna. It was there she first saw Neipperg, the Austrian chamberlain, who was later her morganatic husband. Napoleon appeared better; selfpossessed, moderate, and genial. His vassals and his relatives, his marshals and his generals, all seemed content, and even merry. The King of Prussia had lost his beautiful and unfortunate queen; he alone wore a sad countenance. Yet it was rumored that the Prussian crown prince was a suitor for one of Napoleon's nieces. Beneath the gay exterior were many sad, bitter, perplexed hearts. The Emperor was seldom seen except as a lavish host at public entertainments; most of the time he spent behind closed doors with the busy diplomats. As a last resort, Narbonne was sent, ostensibly to invite Alexander's presence in the interest of peace; actually, of course, to get a final glimpse of his preparations. The Abbé de Pradt was despatched into Poland to fan the enthusiasm for France.
This unparalleled court was dismissed on May 28, Napoleon hastening by Posen and Warsaw to Thorn. The Poles were exuberant in their delight; they little knew that their supposed liberator had bargained away Galicia to Francis. For this betrayal, and his general contempt of the Poles, he was to pay dearly. Had he labored sincerely to organize a strong nucleus of Polish nationality, a coalition of Russia, Prussia, and Austria such as finally overwhelmed him would have been difficult, perhaps impossible. But the founder of an imperial dynasty could not trust a Polish democracy. When the diet, sitting at Warsaw, besought him to declare the existence of Poland, he criticized the taste which made them compose their address in French instead of Polish, and gave a further inkling of his temper by sending his Austrian contingent to serve in Volhynia, so that neither French nor Polish enthusiasm might rouse the Russian Poles. When he reached Vilna he found that the impassive Lithuanians had no intention of rising against Russia, and no attempt was made to rouse them. If, as appears, his first intention had been to wage a frontier campaign, that plan was quickly changed. Retaining Venice and Triest for use against the Orient, with Austria virtually a member of his system, he determined to force Russia back on to the confines of Europe, perhaps into Asia, and then- Who can say? It seems as if Poland was to be divided into French departments instead of erected into another troublesome nation, vassal state or semi-autonomous.
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.
THE INVASION OF RUSSIA.
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,