History of the Expedition to Russia - Undertaken by the Emperor Napoleon in the Year 1812

History of the Expedition to Russia - Undertaken by the Emperor Napoleon in the Year 1812


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The Project Gutenberg EBook of History of the Expedition to Russia, by Count Philip de Segur
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Title: History of the Expedition to Russia  Undertaken by the Emperor Napoleon in the Year 1812
Author: Count Philip de Segur
Release Date: April 3, 2006 [EBook #18113]
Language: English
Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1
Produced by Steven Gibbs, Graeme Mackreth and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at http://www.pgdp.net
Quamquam animus meminisse horret, luctuque refugit, Incipiam—. VIRGIL.
Volume One
Volume Two
Portrait of Napoleon
I have undertaken the task of tracing the History of the Grand Army and its Leader during the year 1812. I address it to such of you as the ices of the North have disarmed, and who can no longer serve their country, but by the recollections of their misfortunes and their glory. Stopped short in your noble career, your existence is much more in the past than in the present; but when the recollections are sogreat, it is allowable to live solelythem. I am not on
afraid, therefore, of troubling that repose which you have so dearly purchased, by placing before you the most fatal of your deeds of arms. Who is there of us but knows, that from the depth of his obscurity the looks of the fallen man are involuntarily directed towards the splendor of his past existence—even when its light illuminates the shoal on which the bark of his fortune struck, and when it displays the fragments of the greatest of shipwrecks?
For myself, I will own, that an irresistible feeling carries me back incessantly to that disastrous epoch of our public and private calamities. My memory feels a sort of melancholy pleasure in contemplating and renewing the painful traces which so many horrors have left in it. Is the soul, also, proud of her deep and numerous wounds? Does she delight in displaying them? Are they a property of which she has reason to be proud? Is it rather, that after the desire of knowing them, her first wish is to impart her sensations? To feel, and to excite feeling, are not these the most powerful springs of our soul?
But in short, whatever may be the cause of the sentiment which actuates me, I have yielded to the desire of retracing the various sensations which I experienced during that fatal war. I have employed my leisure hours in separating, arranging, and combining with method my scattered and confused recollections. Comrades! I also invoke yours! Suffer not such great remembrances, which have been so dearly purchased, to be lost; for us they are the only property which the past leaves to the future. Single, against so many enemies, ye fell with greater glory than they rose. Learn, then, that there was no shame in being vanquished! Raise once more those noble fronts, which have been furrowed with all the thunders of Europe! Cast not down those eyes, which have seen so many subject capitals, so many vanquished kings! Fortune, doubtless, owed you a more glorious repose; but, such as it is, it depends on yourselves to make a noble use of it. Let history inscribe your recollections. The solitude and silence of misfortune are propitious to her labours; and let truth, which is always present in the long nights of adversity, at last enlighten labours that may not prove unproductive.
As for me, I will avail myself of the privilege, sometimes painful, sometimes glorious, of telling what I have seen, and of retracing, perhaps with too scrupulous attention, its most minute details; feeling that nothing was too minute in that prodigious Genius and those gigantic feats, without which we should never have known the extent to which human strength, glory, and misfortune, may be carried.
I.—Political relations of France and Russia since 1807 II.—Prussia.—Frederick William III.—Turkey.—Sultans Selim—Mustapha—Mahmoud IV.—Sweden.—Bernadotte
I.—Feelings of Napoleon's grandees at the approaching contest —their objections, with Napoleon's replies—real motives which urged him to the struggle II.—Arguments against the war by the Dukes of Frioul and Vicenza and the Count de Segur.—Napoleon's replies III.—His manner of gaining proselytes to his opinions—his avowals to his own family—his discussions with Cardinal Fesch—his declaration to Prince Kourakin IV.—Circumstances inclining him to delay the contest—his proposals to England and to Russia—Russian ultimatum V.—Preparations for commencement—Talleyrand—opinions of the military—of Napoleon's ministers and generals—fresh obstacles to his departure
I.—Napoleon's departure from Paris—dispositions of the east of France—of the Germans—assemblage of sovereigns at Dresden II.—Arrival in Poland—complaints by the inhabitants of the disorders of his troops—his ineffectual attempts to check them—meeting with Davoust—quarrel between that officer and Berthier—unfavourable impression of Napoleon against the former—arrival at Königsberg III.—March from the Vistula to the Niemen—Napoleon's manners with the soldiers—positions of the different corps—dispositions of the army
I.—Addresses of Napoleon and Alexander to their respective armies —Position of the Russian forces—Napoleon's plans in consequence —Sketch of the operations of his left and right wings during the
campaign II.—Passage of the Niemen—Dreadful storm and its fatal effects —Melancholy catastrophe—Napoleon's arrival at Wilna—Political arrangements III.—Feelings of the Lithuanians—Napoleon's answer to the address of the Polish confederation—Coolness of the Lithuanians, and discussion of its causes IV.—Distress of the army and its excesses—Manner in which Napoleon was affected by them V.—Arrival of Balachoff from Alexander—Quarrel between Napoleon and Caulaincourt—Progress of the invading army to the 10th of July VI.—Operations of the King of Westphalia's and of Davoust's divisions —Perilous situation and narrow escape of Bagration VII.—Napoleon's departure from Wilna—Retreat of the Russian army from Drissa to Witepsk—Arrival of the different French corps at Beszenkowiczi—Different partial actions near Witepsk VIII.—General engagement before Witepsk—French attack ordered to cease in expectation of a decisive battle on the following day —Retreat of the Russians—Napoleon's disappointment—Position of his different corps
I.—Napoleon's first plans for halting at Witepsk—afterwards abandoned, and his determination to proceed to Smolensk II.—Discussions with the officers of his household—their reasons for dissuading him from advancing further, and his replies—Feelings of the army in general III.—Operations of Oudinot's corps against that of Wittgenstein—partial successes on both sides—Napoleon determines to change his line of operation
I.—Manner in which this manœuvre was effected—The army crosses the Boristhenes—Character of the Jewish and native population II.—Surprise of Newerowskoi's corps beyond Krasnoë—Bold retreat of that officer III..—Movements of the main Russian army—Plans of Barclay—his dissension with Bagration—hastens to the relief of Smolensk—about to be surprised by Napoleon—Unsuccessful attack of the French on
Smolensk IV.—Retreat of the Russian army, and fresh disappointment of Napoleon—Ineffectual attempts of Murat to dissuade his farther advance—Capture of Smolensk V.—Napoleon's reflections on the conduct of the Russians —Intelligence of Regnier's victory over Tormasof—Opinions of the Emperor's principal officers as to the impolicy of proceeding farther VI.—State of the allied army—its immense losses from various causes, independent of the enemy—Napoleon's professed intention to stop, but real determination to proceed VII.—Final evacuation of Smolensk by the Russians after setting it on fire—their army overtaken by Murat and Ney—Death of General Gudin—Battle of Valoutina—Narrow escape of the Russians in consequence of Junot's irresolution VIII.—Results of the battle—Recompenses and rewards conferred by Napoleon—Enthusiasm of the army—Melancholy state of the wounded—Animosity of the Russian population IX.—Napoleon's plans of moving the Russian peasantry to insurrection —Conduct of their nobles to ward off the danger—Napoleon's hesitation as to the plan he should pursue X.—Saint Cyr's victory over Wittgenstein on the 18th of August —Dissension between Murat and Davoust—Discord in the Russian camp in consequence of Barclay's continued retreat—Napoleon's advance to Dorogobouje
I.—Manner in which the allied army was supplied on its march —Details of the organization of Davoust's corps II.—Napoleon's bulletin and decrees at Slawkowo—Fresh quarrels between Murat and Davoust—Description of the Russian mode of retreat and of Murat's method of pursuit III.—Advance to Wiazma and to Gjatz—Refusal of Davoust to obey Murat—Full development of the Russian plan of destroying their cities and towns IV.—Clamours of the Russians against Barclay—Kutusof sent to supersede him—Great merit of Barclay's plan of retreat V.—Near prospect of a battle—Character of Kutusof—Sanguinary and partial action on the 4th of September—Anecdote of Murat —Napoleon's survey of the ground VI.—Disposition of the Russian army on the field of Borodino —Napoleon's plan of battle
VII.—Plan proposed by Davoust rejected by Napoleon—Feelings of the French army—Proclamation of Napoleon VIII.—Preparations of the Russians—Feelings of their soldiery —Napoleon's anxiety—his indisposition on the night before the battle IX.—Battle of Borodino on the 7th of September X.—Battle of Borodino on the 7th of September (Cont.) XI.—Battle of Borodino on the 7th of September (Cont.) XII.—Results of the battle—immense loss on both sides—faults committed by Napoleon—how accounted for—incompleteness of his victory XIII.—Advance to, and skirmish before Mojaisk—Gallantry of fifty voltigeurs of the 33d—Surprising order in the Russian retreat —Napoleon's distress
I.—The Emperor Alexander's arrival at Moscow after his retreat from Drissa—Description of that city—Sacrifices voted by the nobility and the merchants to meet the threatened danger II.—Alarm in consequence of the advance of the French army —Determination of the Governor, Count Rostopchin, and his preparations for destroying the capital—Evacuation of Moscow by the principal part of the inhabitants on the 3d of September III.—State of that city just before and after the battle of Borodino—The Governor's departure IV.IV.—Napoleon advances to Moscow on the 14th of September —Feelings of the army on approaching it—Disappointment at finding it deserted V.—Murat's entrance into the city VI.—Napoleon's entrance into the Kremlin—Discovery of the conflagration of the city VII.—Danger which he ran in escaping through the flames to Petrowsky —Hesitation as to his future plans VIII..—His return to the Kremlin—Description of the camps outside the city—System of general plunder—Reproaches made to the army, and vindication of it IX.—Conduct of Kutusof after abandoning Moscow—Rostopchin sets fire to his seat at Woronowo—Partial actions at Czerikowo and Vinkowo—Anxiety and uneasiness of Napoleon—consultation with his chief officers—Sends Lauriston to the Emperor X.—Conference of Lauriston with Kutusof—Artful conduct of the latter
—Armistice—Infatuation of Murat—Distress of the French army —Warnings of the impending danger—Napoleon's obstinacy in remaining XI.—Illusions by which he kept up his own and his army's hopes —Count Daru's advice—Rupture of the armistice—Incapacity of Berthier—Disastrous engagement at Vinkowo—Napoleon determines to leave Moscow
I.—Departure from Moscow—Composition of the army II.—Battle of Malo-Yaroslawetz III.—Distress of the Emperor—Danger which he ran from a sudden attack of the Cossacks IV.—Field of Malo-Yaroslawetz—Council held by the Emperor —Opinions of Murat, Bessières, and Davoust—Napoleon determines to retreat V.—Kutusof's similar determination to retreat from Malo-Yaroslawetz, ineffectually opposed by Sir Robert Wilson—Napoleon's projected plan of retreat VI.—Mortier's proceedings at Moscow after the departure of the main army—Blowing up of the Kremlin—Devastations committed by both armies—Capture of General Winzingerode—Napoleon's behaviour to him VII.—Arrival at Mojaisk—Alarming news of the Russian army—View of the field of Borodino VIII.—Abandonment of the wounded in the Abbey of Kolotskoi—Horrible conduct of the suttlers—Massacre of 2000 Russian prisoners —Arrival at Gjatz IX.—Napoleon's arrival at Wiazma—Reproaches to Davoust for his tardy mode of retreat, and that officer's vindication—Danger of the latter and Eugene—Arrival of Miloradowitch X.—Battle between Eugene and Davoust and Miloradowitch, near Wiazma, on the 3d November—heavy loss of the French XI.—Dreadful snow-storm on the 6th of November—its effects upon the troops XII.—Arrival of the intelligence of Mallet's conspiracy—impression produced by it upon Napoleon and his officers—Message from Ney —Perilous situation of that marshal XIII.—Defeat and entire dissolution of the Viceroy's corps at the passage of the Wop XIV.—Arrival at Smolensk—Dreadful sufferings of the troops—Bad
arrangements of the administrators—Reasons assigned by the latter in their vindication
I.—Wittgenstein's attack upon Saint Cyr at Polotsk—Retreat of the latter—Want of concert in the movements of the Russian generals II.—Junction of the corps of Saint Cyr and Victor at Smoliantzy on the 31st October—Opportunity lost by the latter of defeating the enemy —General view of the state of the army—Errors committed by Napoleon and his commanders III.—Napoleon's departure from Smolensk—Dispositions of the Russian army to interrupt his farther retreat—Bravery of Excelmans —Arrival at Krasnoë IV.—March of Eugene from Smolensk to Krasnoë with the remains of his corps—his narrow escape V.—Successful nocturnal attack by Roguet on the Russian camp at Chickowa—Desperate situation of Napoleon—Wilson's fruitless efforts to induce Kutusof to surround and destroy him—Battle of Krasnoë—Bravery of the guard under Mortier VI.—Napoleon's arrival at Dombrowna—Nocturnal false alarm —General disorganization of the army—Davoust's ineffectual efforts to check it VII.—Council held at Orcha to determine the farther course of retreat —Opinion of Jomini—Napoleon decides on Borizof—Quits Orcha on the 20th of November without hearing any thing of Ney—Re-appearance of that Marshal after his departure VIII.—Details of Ney's retreat from Smolensk until his arrival at Orcha IX.—Details of Ney's retreat from Smolensk until his arrival at Orcha (cont.)
I.—Capture of Minsk by the Russians—Different opinions in the army as to the causes of their disasters—Rumoured treachery of Schwartzenberg—Napoleon's reproaches to him and Schwartzenberg's reply II.—Details of the loss of Minsk—Movements of Dombrowski, Oudinot, and Victor—Distress and malady of Napoleon—Remarkable conversation with Count Daru III.—Passage through the Forest of Minsk—Junction of the remains of
the grand army with Victor and Oudinot's corps—State of the former IV.—Preparations for crossing the Berezina V.—Preparations for crossing the Berezina (Cont.) VI.—Circumstances which led the Russian general, Tchaplitz, into error as to the point where Napoleon was to cross the Berezina, and consequences of that error—Napoleon crosses that river at Studzianka on the 27th November VII.—Capture and destruction of Partouneaux's division VIII.—Attack made by the Russians under Wittgenstein and Platof on the left side, and by Tchitchakof on the right side of the Berezina, and repelled by the French IX.—The burning of the bridge over the Berezina X.—Napoleon's situation during the preceding actions—Passage over the morasses—His manners to his officers XI.—Napoleon's arrival at Malodeczno—Announcement on the 3d of December of his intention to set out for France XII.—Increased severity of the winter—Partial actions of Ney and Maison with the Russians between Pleszezenitzy and Malodeczno —Quarrel between Ney and Victor XIII.—Napoleon's arrival at Smorgony—his parting interview with his marshals
I.—Napoleon's journey from Smorgony to Paris—Impression produced in the army by his departure—Dreadful effects of the increased cold II.—Picture of the sufferings of the army from the cold and the climate III.—Arrival at Wilna—Consternation of the inhabitants—Fatal effects of not distributing the provisions collected among the troops—State of the wounded in the hospitals—Arrival of the Russians—Flight of Murat—Evacuation of Wilna—Immense losses which that occasioned—Disaster at Ponari IV.—Details of Ney's mode of retreat—Losses occasioned to the Russians by the severity of the winter—Arrival at Kowno—Ney's defence and evacuation of that place V.—First symptoms of Murat's defection—Arrival at Königsberg VI.—Marshal Macdonald's retreat from Riga—Details of the defection of the Prussian Army under Yorck VII.—Marshal Macdonald's retreat from Riga—Details of the defection of the Prussian Army under Yorck (Cont.) VIII.—Marshal Macdonald's retreat from Riga—Details of the defection of
the Prussian Army under Yorck (Cont.) IX.—Marshal Macdonald's retreat from Riga—Details of the defection of the Prussian Army under Yorck (Cont.) X.—Conduct of Schwartzenberg and defection of the Austrians —Atrocities committed on the French prisoners at Wilna and Königsberg XI.—Defection of Murat XII.—Conclusion
I.Portrait of Napoleon II.Map of the countries between Paris and Moscow III.Passage of the Niemen IV.Portrait of Murat, King of Naples V.Portrait of the Emperor Alexander VI.Conflagration of Moscow VII.Portrait of Marshal Ney VIII.Passage of the Berezina