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FROM THE PAINTING BY JEAN-BAPTISTE-PAULIN GUERIN, IN THE MUSEUM OF VERSAILLES.
at its head, set out, by the circuitous route
human, had proved unequal to the execution of his commander's orders.
It had been the object of Napoleon to gather his army on a certain definite, wellconnected line, and thence use it as necessity demanded. Instead of obeying the letter of his instructions, Berthier had struggled to obey their spirit, and had failed. The command on the left bank had been assigned to Davout; that of all the troops on the other side had been given to Masséna; the latter was to concentrate on the Lech, the former at Ingolstadt. So far all was good; then Berthier lost his head (the critics say he never
could have learned strategy if he had had ten lives), and, swerving from the clear letter of Napoleon's orders, he attempted a more rapid combination-not that behind the Lech, but one directly at Ratisbon. Davout was to march thither and remain there; the other divisions were successively to join him. The result was that three days elapsed before any army was gathered at all; the two portions, one at Ratisbon, the other at Augsburg, being widely separated, and each exposed to the separate attack of an enemy without the possibility of coöperation by the other half. When the Archduke Charles learned the general situation of his enemy he determined to do exactly this thing-that is, to attack and overwhelm each portion of the French army separately. For this purpose he crossed the Isar, and, turning to the right, marched directly on Ratisbon to attack Davout's command with his superior force before Masséna's scattered divisions could reach the positions assigned to them. But he was too late. The semaphore telegraph then in use had flashed from station to station its signals of the declaration of war and of the enemy's advance over the Inn, until the news reached Napoleon in Paris on the 12th. On the 16th, after four days' almost unbroken travel, he reached Donauwörth. The confusion into which Berthier's orders had thrown his carefully arranged plans infuriated him; but when he heard, as he descended from his travelingcarriage, where the enemy was, he could not believe his ears. When assured of the truth he seemed, as eye-witnesses declared, to grow taller, his eyes began to sparkle, and with every indication of delight he cried: <<Then I have him! That's a lost army! In one month we are in Vienna!» The enemy's first decisive blunder was the march by Linz; the second was yet to be made.
Napoleon's strategy during the following days was, both in his own opinion and in that of his military commentators, the greatest of his life. Such had been Berthier's indecision when he saw his blunder that one general at least (l'elet) charged him with being a traitor. In twenty-four hours his puzzled humor and conflicting orders had more or less demoralized the whole army. But with Napoleon's presence new vigor was inspired into every one, from the division commanders to the men in the ranks. Promptly on the 17th the order went forth for Davout to leave Ratisbon and challenge the enemy to battle by a flank march up the right bank of the Danube to Ingolstadt in his very face. Lefebvre was to cover the movement, and Wrede, with
one Bavarian division, was held ready to strengthen any weak spot in case of battle. Masséna next day was ordered to set out from Augsburg for the same point, «to unite with the army, catch the enemy at work, and destroy his columns.» To this end he was to march eastward by Pfaffenhofen. In a twinkling the scattered French army seemed already concentrated, while scouts came one after the other to announce that the Austrians were separating.
The Austrians had crossed the Isar in good order, Charles himself at Landshut. If they had kept directly onward they might have still wedged themselves between Davout and Lefebvre. But the Archduke grew timid at the prospect of swamps and wooded hills before him; uncertain of his enemy's exact position, he threw forward three separate columns by as many different roads, and thus lengthened his line enormously, the right wing being at Essenbach, the center advanced before Landshut to Hohen-Thann, the left at Morsbach. At four in the morning of the 18th Lefebvre received orders to fall on the Austrian left, while flying messengers followed each other in quick succession to spur on Masséna with urgent pleas of immediate necessity. It was hoped that he might come up to join an attack, which though intended mainly to divert the Austrians from Davout, could by his help be turned into an important victory.
The Archduke during the day collected 66,000 men at Rohr for his onset, and 35,000 men at Ludmannsdorf to cover his flank, leaving 25,000 at Moosburg. That night Davout's last corps (Friant's) came in, and he began his march. Masséna, who had collected his army and was coming from Augsburg, was ordered to turn, either left toward Abensberg, in order to join Davout, or right toward Landshut, to attack Charles's rear, as circumstances should determine. Lefebvre was now commanded to assume the defensive and await events at Abensberg. Throughout the morning of the 19th Davout and Charles continued their march, drawing ever closer to each other. At eleven the French van and the Austrian left collided. The latter made a firm stand, but were driven in with great slaughter.
A considerable force which had been sent to strike Davout on the flank at Abensberg was also defeated by Lefebvre. Before evening the entire French army was united and in hand. Davout was on the left toward the river Laber, Lefebvre, with the Bavarians and several French divisions, was in the center beyond the river Aben, while Masséna had reached a point beyond Moosburg. Within
REAPPEARANCE OF NAPOLEON ON THE FIELD BEFORE RATISBON, AFTER BEING WOUNDED. (The moment illustrated is that of the capture of the town at 3 P. M.)
sixty hours Napoleon had conceived and completed three separate strategic movements: the withdrawal of the whole army toward Ingolstadt, the advance of his right to strengthen the incoming left, and the rearrangement of his entire line with the right on his enemy's base of operations.
«In war you see your own troubles; those of the enemy you cannot see. You must show confidence,» wrote the French emperor about this time to Eugène. How true it was of his own course! On the morning of the 21st he declared that the enemy was in full retreat. This was over-confidence on his part, and not true; but it might as well have been. As a result of the preceding day's skirmishing and countermarching the Austrian army was itself entirely cut in two; one division, the right, under Charles, pressing on to Ratisbon, the other, under Hiller, marching aimlessly behind in a general northwesterly direction, the whole straggling line not less than twenty miles in length. Lannes, the sturdiest, most rough-and-ready of all the marshals, had arrived from Spain the night before. His very presence increased the army's confidence that they must win, and next day he commanded a division formed from the corps of Morand, Gudin, and Nansouty. Davout received orders to hold the enemy in his front; Masséna was to spread out along his rear from Moosburg down the Isar, ready to harass either flank or rear with half his strength, and to send the rest, under Oudinot, to Abensberg.
On the morning of the 20th the Emperor himself, with Lannes and Wrede, set out to cut the enemy's line in two. They had little difficulty. The thin column dispersed before them to the north and south. Hiller was driven back to Landshut, whence he fled to Neumarkt, leaving the Isar in possession of the French. Davout advanced simultaneously against the Archduke's army, which, although very much stronger than Hiller's division, nevertheless retired and occupied Eckmühl, standing drawn up on the highroad toward Ratisbon. At Landshut the Emperor became aware that the mass of the Austrian army was not before him, but before Davout. Leaving Bessières and two divisions of infantry, with a body of cavalry, to continue the pursuit of Hiller, he turned back toward Eckmühl at three in the morning of the 22d. Here, again, a great resolve was taken in the very nick of time and in the presence of the enemy. With the same iron will and burning genius, the same endurance and pertinacity, as of old, he pressed on at the head of his soldiers. It was one o'clock when the eighteen
mile march was accomplished and the enemy's outposts before Eckmühl were reached.
Meantime one of the Austrian divisions left in Bohemia had reached Ratisbon. Charles, strengthened by this reinforcement, had determined to take the offensive, and at noon his advance began. Vandamme seemed destined to bear the force of the onset, but in the moment before the shock would have occurred appeared Napoleon's van. Advancing rapidly with Lannes, the Emperor rode to the top of a slight rise, and scanning the coming Austrians, suddenly ordered Vandamme to seize Eckmühl, and then despatched Lannes to cross the Laber and circumvent the enemy. Davout, having learned the direction of the Austrian charge, threw himself against the hostile columns on their right, and after a stubborn resistance began to push back the dogged foe. In less than two hours the French right, left, and center were all advancing, and the enemy were steadily retreating, but fighting fiercely as they withdrew. This continued until seven in the evening, when Lannes finally accomplished his task.
This destroyed all resistance. The Emperor weakly yielded to his generals' remonstrance that the troops were exhausted, and did not order a pursuit. Charles withdrew into Ratisbon. During the night and early morning he threw a pontoon bridge across the stream, which was already spanned by a stone one, and next day, after a skirmish in which his outposts were driven into the town, he crossed the Danube; three days later he effected a junction with his second division, left in the Bohemian Forest, and stood at Cham with an effective fighting force of 80,000 men. The result proved that Napoleon's judgment had been unerring; had he pursued, in spite of all remonstrance and in disregard of the fatigue of his men, he would have had no mighty foe to fight a few weeks later at Aspern. Sometime thereafter he told an Austrian general that he had deliberated long, and had refrained from following Charles into Bohemia for fear the Northern powers would rise and come to the assistance of Austria. «Had I pursued immediately,» he said at St. Helena, «as the Prussians did after Waterloo, the hostile army crowded on to the Danube would have been in the last extremity.»><
«Labor is my element,» he remarked on the same dreary isle almost amid the pangs of dissolution. «I have found the limit of my strength in eye and limb; I have never found the limit of my capacity for work.» This was certainly true of this five days' fight. «His