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EDINBURGH ANNUAL REGISTER, 1812. [CHAP. 14.
in their career of guilt ; their discipline honourable to the Russian chiefs than and activity relaxed apace, until their discreditable to their enemies, to whom excesses became so great as to con. they remained so long unknown. The tribute in no small degree to the aw- French, however, when they heard of ful catastrophe which was approach. the advance of the Russians, dispatching
ed from Moscow strong divisions to The Russian army, after various occupy all the adjoining roads by maneuvres which deceived the ene. which a surprise might have been ato my, took up the position which tempted. had been selected by the counsels of But the French ruler was now awatheir chief. Their right stretched kened from his vision of conquest, and across the Toula road, their centre all the horrors of his situation at once occupied the old, and their left the opened to his view. His soldiers benew Kalouga road ; and by this dis. came turbulent and clamorous ; they position the most fertile provinces of demanded from their leader that peace the empire were placed beyond the which he had promised to dictate in the enemy's grasp. General Dochtoroff Russian capital. The blood through was sent towards Monjaisk to act in which they had waded to Moscow, the rear of the French ; and Cossacks had never for a moment inspired them were employed in all directions to in- with one sentiment of pity or remorse ; terrupt their supplies. Thus was the but the awful retribution which they French army in a great measure sur. now saw inevitable, and of which they rounded without any hope but in re were to become the victims, speedily treat, and that a retreat which threa- changed their resolution. Buona. tened the most serious difficulties. parte saw at once the perils of his si. The whole Russian empire was in a state tuation ; he perceived that peace could of activity; and reinforcements of regu. now afford the only hope to him and lar and irregular troops were arriving his followers ; but he was yet unwil. every day to secure the annihilation of ling to stoop from the attitude of conthe invaders. It is a remarkable circum- quest, and to implore the forbearance stance, that the enemy remained for of those whom he had so deeply insome time in perfect ignorance as to jured. His dignity seemed still to the numbers and position of the Rus- require that he should be addressed sian armies, and seem to have enjoyed as a conqueror; and he was perhaps the fallacious security of a moment. afraid, that, if he had talked of peace, He
may have thought that the Rus- the weakness of his situation, and sians had for ever abandoned the cause the extent of his fears, must have of the empire ; and that, overwhelmed been exposed to his enemy. He waitwith despondency by the fall of Mos- ed, therefore, in anxious expectation, cow, they had lost all their spirit, and that proposals of some kind might had begun to despair. From this vain come from Russia; he trusted to his dream, however, he was roused by erroneous impressions of the character the appearance of Russian forces in
of the Russian government and peohis rear ; for Winzengerode, who ple; but all his expectations were dis. had been stationed at Twer, had al. appoinied. The fatal delay which he ready sent forward parties of his troops required as a sacrifice to his pride, was to Monjaisk, and got into communica. increasing his difficulties every motion with detachments from the grand ment ; his stores were exhausted, his army. These movements were no less supplies intercepted, and already his
troops had become the victims of fa. this singularity. Buonaparte has never mine and disease. They were impa- desired peace, except when he had eitient from suffering, and despised all ther obtained the ultimate objects of the rules of discipline ; the efforts of war, or had at all events made as great their leaders to restrain their discon- progress towards them as circum. tent were unavailing. Famine forced stances at the time would permit; and them to the most dreadful extremities; as soon as this point was gained, surely they sallied forth into the adjoining no man had so much reason to wish country in quest of sustenance, and for peace, as the person to whom a fell a sacrifice to the peasantry, who general pacification promised to sewatched their movements with vindic- cure the grand points of his ambitive ferocity. It was obvious, there. tion. Some
very much fore, that to keep them longer in the admired the magnanimity of the man, position which they occupied, would be who, in the moment of victory, so free to expose
them to lingering but inevit. quently offered terms of peace to his able destruction. The pride of Buo. enemy; but they should recollect, that naparte was humbled; he was at last as soon as victory had conducted him compelled to give way to circumstan- to his immediate end, it became his ces, and to sue for peace to those, manifest interest to secure, by treaty, over whom, but a few short weeks be- what he held but on a precarious footfore, he had pretended to exercise the ing-what he owed to the chance of rights of conquest.
war, and could never, from the nature The effort which the French ruler of his authority, claim in virtue of any was compelled to make was humilia. title hitherto recognized in modern ting in the extreme ; and he endea. Europe. Buonaparte was a mere sol. voured to disguise its real character dier; he recollected that the acquisi. by affecting, as usual, a sincere desire tions of a soldier and an usurper are for the repose of nations. It is a sin- held by a precarious tenure, and he gular circumstance, that this disturber wished, on all occasions, to superadd of the peace of Europe, whose life be- to the right of conquest the solid tigan amid scenes of bloodshed and mi- tle which is conferred by the princi
on all occasions been the ples of political and international law. first to profess an ardent desire of With a wise deference to the prejupeace, and to affect the greatest sym. dices of human nature, he preferred the pathy with the sufferings of humanity. acquisition of a territory by treaty to It is easy to account for this in the the occupation of it by force, and pruvulgar way, by saying that such dently endeavoured to sink the soldier professions were the result of mere in the politician. artifice on the
General Lauriston, a favourite di. whose conviction of the great share plomatist of Buonaparte, was sent which he has had in all the commotions with a flag of truce to the Russian of the last fifteen years, and of the head-quarters. After an idle preface odium which such a course must have about the anxiety of his master to prebrought upon his name, may have vent the farther effusion of blood, he led him to hope to counteract it by announced the readiness of Buonaparte professions of more than ordinary still to treat with the Russian court. warmth for the happiness of his fellow The answer of Prince Kutusoff was creatures. There is another view of resolute; he said, that, as to the effu. his character, however, which may sion of blood, there was no Russian perhaps afford a better explanation of who would not sacrifice his life in thiş
contest, and that no terms could be negociation, he should forward a lete entered into while an enemy remained ter from Buonaparte to the Emperor within the Russian territory.-Buona- Alexander. “I will do that," (reparte was incensed by this refusal; but plied Kutusoff) “ provided the word
ontent of his army became peace is not expressed in that letter. more alarming than ever, he affected I would not be a party in such an into believe that Kutuzoff had exceeded sult to my sovereign, nor have a hand his powers in this peremptory rejection in forwarding to him, what he would of the French proposals, and that as instantly order to be destroyed in his soon as they should reach the Empe- presence. You already know on what ror Alexander, negociations would be terms alone offers of peace will be atopened. The most extravagant re
tended to. His imperial majesty, we ports were in the mean time circulated know, will keep firm to his resolves, throughout the French army; Riga, as we shall stand stedfast in ours to it was pretended, had been taken by support the independence of the emassault; Macdonald had entered Pe- pire.” This reply was noble, and altersburgh in triumph; a large convoy together worthy of the great general was on its way to the relief of the to whom it has been ascribed. It may grand army; and the sufferings of the be remarked, however, that he scems Russians were yet more severe than to have entertained the strongest disthose of their enemies. While these like to the interference of his master efforts were made to deceive the sol. in these momentous negociations, and diers, famine and disease spread their was very unwilling that any offers of ravages throughout the camp ; and peace from Buonaparte should be al. the Russian armies were already begin- . lowed to reach his ear.
He assigns a ning to inflict that signal chastisement, reason for this, which is in the highest the account of which will afterwards degree flattering to the character of form so prominent a feature in the the emperor ; but there are history of this memorable campaign. who have put a different interpretation
The Russian Generals Dochtoroff, on this transaction, and have insinuaKorff, Milaradovitch, and Winzen- ted that the firmness of Alexander gerode, who, with their detached might have been shaken by the articorps, occupied all the roads which fices of his enemy.. That the benefisurrounded Moscow, cut off the sup- cent feelings of this great monarch plies, dispersed the straggling parties might have been in some measure at of the enemy, and took many prison. variance with his policy, when the war ers. The sufferings and discontent of was first undertaken, is extremely prothe French increased ; and yet there bable ; but after the destruction of was no intelligence that the proposals Moscow, and the forlorn condition of of their ruler had been listened to at the invader, were known to him, it is St Petersburgh. They now saw be difficult to discover what inducement fore them nothing but the prospect of he could have had to relax in his pothe most cruel and lingering death ; licy. The die was cast—the measure and their suspicions of their leader, by of Russian suffering had now been whom they had been betrayed, were filled up; retribution was ready to confirmed. He saw this, and once overtake the foe ; and in such circummore humbled himself so far, as to stances, could the mildest and most pasend Count Lauriston to the Russian ternal of sovereigns have interposed head quarters, to demand, that if to arrest its progress ? The prince Prince Kutusoff would not listen to might with all safety have trusted to
the resolution of his master ; he must armistice and a negociation for peace, have known this ; and, at all events, the Russian general-in-chief replied would scarcely, without authority, with firmness, “ It is not time for us have dared to become responsible in to grant either the one or the other, circumstances so full of peril. The when the campaign on our part is just reasons which he assigned, therefore, opening.”—Thus were extinguished when he declined to consult the ca all the hopes which had for a while binet of St Petersburgh, were doubt. sustained the sinking spirits of Buonaless those which really influenced him, parte and his army. His disappointwhatever 'may be said by the calum- ment on account of what was past, was niators of the Russian name.
equalled only by his apprehension of The contemptuous refusal of Buo. what was to come ; and in order to naparte's second offer for negociation withdraw from the scene of misery, exasperated him to madness, and he which was every day extending around would assuredly have attempted some. him, he abandoned Moscow, and rething decisive in this moment of frenzy, turned to the palace of Petrofsky, had his fears not whispered to him, where he had formerly expected the that his own soldiers had now become Russian authorities to welcome him almost as dangerous to him as the ene to the capital. Here he was left to my. The foreigners in his service de meditate on his errors, and form unserted in thousands, and carried intel- availing plans for extricating his folligence of all kinds to the Russians ; lowers from the difficulties which sureven the French were seized with de- rounded them. spair. There was neither advance nor The desire of revenge was the first retreat for them ; no means of subsist. impulse of his mind. He determined ence for the present, nor hope of de. that Moscow should bear lasting marks liverance for the future.--It remained of his resentment, and that whatever for their leader but to make one fure of its magnificence yet remained should ther effort at negociation. Lauriston fall a sacrifice to his disappointed was again ordered into his presence, hopes. He summoned his officers to and desired, for the third and last time, the place where he had now fixed his to repair to the head-quarters of Prince residence ; he ordered them to intiKutusoff with new proposals for an mate to the soldiers that the barbaarmistice, and with an offer that the rous warfare of the Russians had reFrench should evacuate Moscow, and duced the capital so much, that he take up a position in the neighbour- could no longer avail himself of it as hood, where the terms of a treaty a military position, and that he had, might be afterwards arranged.- therefore, determined on abandoning The Russians were not to be deceived it. The severity of a Russian winter by such overtures; they had their ene. called upon him to provide for the my in their power; they had every comfort of his followers ; and he meant thing to gain by the continuance of therefore to lead them into other prothe war, and every thing to lose by its vinces of the empire, where all their abrupt and unseasonable termination ; wants would be supplied. When the and, above all, they were perfectly return of spring should again open the sensible that the evacuation of Mosc field to their prowess, they would cow, which the French ruler seemed umph in every quarter, and, advanto hold out as an inducement, would cing upon St Petersburgh, erase the have counteracted all their plans of name of Russia from the list of Eurovengeance. To the proposal for an pean nations.
Orders were given by Buonaparte sufficient natural strength to be deto his generals, and by them announ- fended by a garrison of less than 20,000 ced to the army, to complete the de men ; that so many
could not be spa. struction of Moscow. These orders red without forfeiting advantages of were obeyed with ferocious alacrity; greater moment ; and that Moscow, and scenes occurred of which it is im. now a heap of ruins, was not worth so possible to give even a faint impres- great a sacrifice.--The enemy's official sion. The soldiers indulged all their reports gave an exulting account of vile passions with confidence, for their the success of this grand enterprise. atrocities had the sanction of their “ All the adjoining buildings having leader. For eight days every species been emptied with great care, and the of crime was committed with impuni. Kremlin being judiciously mined, at ty; nor did this memorable tragedy two o'clock in the morning of the 23d conclude until Moscow was no more. of October it was blown into the air On this subject it is impossible to ex. by the Duke of Treviso (Mortier.) aggerate ; for every description must The arsenal, the barracks, the magafall beneath the dreadful reality. Let zines, all have been destroyed. This him who doubts this, recollect to what ancient citadel, from which is dated a state of desperation the minds of the the foundation of the empire, this first French soldiers had been wrought up palace of the czars, exists no more!" by disasters and calamities of all kinds This is, however, a very erroneous ac---let him recollect what a ruffian sol. count of the enemy's success, for he diery is even in their calmest moments was fortunately prevented from exe-and then let him reflect also how cuting his plans to their full extent by much their audacious violence must the activity of the Russian corps in have been inflamed under the sanction the neighbourhood, which arrived in of that power which they were accus time to save the greater part of this . tomed to obey. When he takes these venerable edifice. circumstances into account, he may be Early in the month of October the able to form some faint idea of these French sent out strong detachments disgraceful scenes; but he will yet have from Moscow, that they might dedifficulty in believing, that in the nine- ceive Winzengerode and the other teenth century the most unparalleled Russian generals as to the real move. atrocities should have been committed ments of their army. It was at first by the armies of a nation, which pre- supposed by the Russians that these tends to greater refinement and huma- detachments had been sent out merely nity than the other states of Europe. to plunder the surrounding country:
It was the intention of Buonaparte but they were soon undeceived by the to have placed a garrison in the Krem- reports of deserters and prisonerse . lin, and to have retained military pose Winzengerode received intelligence session of Moscow. With this view, he also, that the enemy's force still reemployed his troops in fortifying the maining in Moscow was very much ren palace; but when he discovered the full duced ; and on the 19th of October. extent of the perils to which he was he observed that the
under Morexposed, he abandoned this project ; tier, stationed on the Monjaisk road, he had the palace undermined, and had fallen back towards the capital
. gave orders that it should be destroy- He sent a small party to reconnoitre ed. He thought proper to assign his the new positions which the enemy reasons for taking this step. He told had taken up; and the Russians were his followers that the Kremlin had not enabled gradually to approach.evea t*