« ForrigeFortsett »
curred betwixt their detached parties At this juncture, Admiral Tchiand those of the Russians. On the chagoff received orders from Prince 14th September, General Hertel at Kutusoff to hasten towards Minsk, tacked the enemy in front of Sloutzk, and interrupt the retreat of the grand and pursued him into the town. He French army; he set out accordingly afterwards overtook them at some dis. on the 1st November, and was expect. tance from this place, where a battle ed by the 19th to reach the place of was fought, which ended in the dis. his destination.--Such were the arpersion of the enemy, who was com- rangements made in this quarter to inpelled to seek shelter in the woods.-- terrupt the invaders, who had now be. The object of these operations was the gun their flight through the Russian destruction of the enemy's magazines territories. in this neighbourhood, and in this ob On the 4th October, the head-quarject the Russians completely succeed, ters of Kutusoff were at Litachsoka, ed, the whole of the places occupied on the Kalouga road. Before the by the French, with the stores, &c. Russian army took up this position, having fallen into their hands.
it had been abundantly supplied with When Renier and Schwartzenberg provisions of all kinds from the neighwere apprised of the junction of Tor. bouring governments, and had receimozoff's army with that of the Da ved great reinforcementsof new troops, nube, they decided on retiring. They which were rapidly disciplined and orwereactively pursued, however, in their ganised. The enemy was in no conretreat, and sustained great loss, till dition to meet them; he was suffering they reached a strong position in which all manner of privations, and was hathey entrenched themselves. On the rassed at all points by the troops who 11th October, Tchichagoff came up were fast closing round him. Before with them, and prepared to attack any decisive arrangement, therefore, them next day; but as the night was had been made by the enemy, the Rusdark, the Austrian and French com sians had completed their preparations; manders availed themselves of this cir- they had taken by storm the town of cumstance to evacuate their position, Vereya, which had been fortified and and to continue their retreat. The provisioned by the French, and formed pursuit re-commenced so soon as the a depot for their arms, ammunition, Russians discovered that the enemy and plunder. The enemy, alarmed by had retreated, and was continued with the advance of the Russians towards such effect, that the allies did not ven this point, had sent a reinforcement ture to halt at the station which they from Mojaisk to support the goverhad originally chosen, but continued nor; but it arrived too late, and was their flight towards Bialistock.-Tchi- almost wholly destroyed in retiring. chagoff intended by these movements The whole country in this direction to dislodge the enemy from those dis was thus cleared ; and the great obtricts of country on which his own stacle to the movements of the left of troops depended for supplies ; to cut the Russian grand army was removed. off their communication with the grand The French armies now began to French army,
and to facilitate his move on all sides towards the Dneiper; own with the Russian army of the and the intentions of their chief were Dwina under Wittgenstein. In these no longer doubtful.' He saw the difobjects he ultimately succeeded, and ficulties which surrounded him; he thus fulfilled the intentions of the com. had no confidence in the issue of any mander-in-chief.
attempt to cut his way through the
gathered hosts of his enemies, and heed the enemy's left flank, and attack. therefore had recourse to an expe- ed his rear with great impetuosity. dient, which, although it threatened to The Cossacks made a furious charge; sacrifice one part of his armies, pro. and the French were driven from the mised to secure the fight of the other field in confusion. They lost 2500 divisions, as well as his own personal killed and wounded, 1000 prisoners, safety. He sent towards Smolensko his 36 pieces of cannon, besides ammu. carts, carriages, and waggons filled nition, baggage and plunder, to an with plunder, ammunition,
and wound. amount almost incredible.-The loss ed soldiers ; and he dispatched a large of the Russians was not so great ; but force under Murat and Beauharnois they had to lament the brave General to attack the Russian grand army by Baggavant, who was killed early in surprise, as if it had been his object to the action by a cannon ball. Ge. cut his way through it, and reach the neral Benningsen also was severely fertile provinces in the south. He en wounded. The conduct of the Rusdeavoured at the same time to conduct sian troops on this occasion was much the other divisions under his own im- praised by their superiors; their mediate command towards Minsk, good order and discipline in particuwhere a grand depot had been esta. Iar were conspicuous. Prince Ku. blished. Even the partial success of tusoff remarked, “ The circumstance this plan depended on the surprise of in this victory that I dwell on with the Russian army by Murat and Beau- the greatest satisfaction is, that all the harnois ; but the Russian general was columns performed their movements not to be so easily outdone. He had with an order and tranquillity, more intelligence of the whole plan; he de- resembling the calm evolutions of a termined, instead of being surprised field-day, than the tumultous hour of himself, to fall upon the French unex. battle." -General Benningsen said, pectedly, and with this view he order. “ I cannot sufficiently express my aped some divisions of his army rapidly probation of the good order and couto advance under General Benningsen, rage with which the troops executed and anticipate the enemy. This brave their different movements, and made officer set out on his enterprise on the their attacks. Their coolness and inevening of the 17th October, and on trepidity, as well as discipline, cannot the following day, his approach be. be excelled. They have covered themcame known to the enemy, whom this selves with glory. In justice to the unexpected occurrence altogether con other part of the army, which circumfounded.- One of the Russian columns stances did not permit to join in the was commanded by Count Orloff Den- action, I must add what is due to zoff, another by General Baggavant, them, that the commanding disposiand a third by Count Osterman Tol. tion which they took on the extended stoy. The French under Murat and heights to the left, materially facilita. Beauharnois, to the number of 50,000 ted the brilliant issue of this memoramen, presented an extended front, and ble day.”_Of such materials were waited the approach of the enemy.- those Russian armies composed, of A terrible fire was opened on the whom many persons affected to enterFrench from the Russian centre ; a tain a very mean opinion. battery hastily constructed placed the The plans of Buonaparte had been enemy's line in the greatest danger; and entirely defeated ; and his mind was the rout was nearly completed by the now filled with despair. He has been success of Orloff Denzoff, who turn- blamed for the movement which
brought on this fatal encounter, and that were so fast approaching ; yet did apparently with justice. It was his they make a thousand efforts to con. duty, in retreating from Moscow, to ceal them from their followers, and to have kept as long as possible at a dis- encourage the drooping spirits of the tance from the Russian army, to have soldiers with hopes of plenty and re avoided rousing it into immediate ac pose, which were never to be realised. tion, and to have directed the move. So sensible was Buonaparte of the ments of his columns to the northward overwhelming difficulties of his situaby the Mojaisk road. By the course tion, that he had already meditated his which he pursued, he manifestly sacri own escape, and the abandonment of ficed any temporary advantages which his armies ; already did he cease to he might have gained by the protract. command men who were no longer en ed inactivity of the Russians, and at' titled to the name of soldiers, among once precipitated his armies upon their whom discipline was unknown, and destroyers.--But after the defeat of the military virtue forgotten, unless when 18th October, it was too late to deli- they were called forth by despair. To berate ; every thing which was after- his generals he, in a great measure
, wards done was prompted by des- abandoned the care of this unhappy pair alone ; for there seemed even at multitude, and began to retire from this early period of the retreat to be the indignant view of thousands of no longer any hope of escape for the wretched beings whom he had led on invaders. On the 19th of October, to inevitable destruction. Surrounded Buonaparte ordered the whole of his by his favourite generals, and accomarmy to break up; the divisions under panied by his guards, he seemed to his own command to move directly think only of the means of ensuring upon Mojaisk, and those under Murat his own return to that country which and Beauharnois to attempt gaining the so few of his followers were ever to same point by a more circuitous route. revisit. Kutusoff, for a short time, resumed his Murat, in the first instance, endea. position at Touratino, that he mightvoured to reach the neighbourhood of direct the movements of his armies ac. Minsk ; but found his advance en. cording to the intelligence which he compassed by so many perils, that he should receive of the enemy; and he resolved on joining his forces to those ordered 25 new regiments of Cossacks, of the main army on the road to Mo. under Platoff, to scour the country in jaisk.-- Kutusoff ordered his troops all directions, and harass the invaders. to advance ; with one part of the
And now, indeed, a scene of hor- army he moved on Krasnoy, and direct. rors commenced, to which no paral. ed the advance under Miloradovitch lel can be found in history. Flights to move in a parallel direction betwist disgrace, fatigue, famine, pestilence- himself and the enemy The Cossacks misery, in short, in all the varied as and light troops sustained, as usual, pects which it can assume, was before their harassing and destructive warthe view of the French soldier. At fare-broke down the bridges in the this awful moment there was no ray of enemy's line, and contributed essential. hope but for those who were so igno. ly to those memorable disasters
, which rarit and credulous (if indeed there form the conclusion of this eventful were any such) as to believe the pro- story.—A short account of the exmises of their leader, who had so woe. ploits performed about this period by fully deceived them. He himself and these savage warriors cannot be unina his generals saw clearly the disasters teresting.
Platoff, the celebrated leader of the vaders." -An instance of such a stand Cossacks, received intelligence on the as that mentioned by Platoff, occurred 30th October, that a large convoy,
on the 20th November ; the enemy strongly escorted, was on its way had assembled a considerable force towards Smolensko.
He came up
near Gchatz ; he had placed cannon in with it near the monastery of Kolotsk his front, and had lined the neighboure, at day-break on the 31st, and began a ing woods with tirailleurs. The Cose spirited attack upon its left flank. sacks quickly cleared the woods of the The enemy shewed no disposition to tirailleurs, and then fell upon the ene resist; but the Cossacks having press- my's wings with their cannon After ed on with their wonted impetuosity, two hours the enemy was put to fight, great slaughter ensued. Two entire and pursued next day till the scattered battalions of French were cut to pieces fugitives found a temporary protection in this affair ; and the object of the from the corps of Davoust, with which victors was attained by the desperate they were fortunate enough to unite. resolution of the fugitives, who blew Seventy waggons, 20 pieces of cannon, up the whole of their waggons.
with several stands of colours, reward. Straggling parties of the enemy, ed the activity of the Cossacks On rendered frantic by suffering, broke the very same day, Count Orloff Deoff from the main body in quest
nizoff discovered a vast concourse of tenance, which was scarcely to be found miserable beings, who, hunted by the in this desolated tract of country. It Cossacks from the woods where they was seldom they were allowed to rey had sought shelter, assembled on the join their comrades, such were the high road. He immediately attacked activity and skill of the warriors by them; they made some show of resist. whom they were beset. Platoff gives ance, but were soon overpowered. Upthe following description of the state wards of 1000 prisoners, besides wag. of the enemy about this period : gons, &c. were taken by the Russians. “ The retreat of the French,” he ob General Miloradovitch, who coma serves, “ is a flight without exam. manded the advance of the grand Rus. ple, abandoning every thing that de. sian army, and to whoin had been conmands carriage, even to their sick and fided nearly one half of its force, came wounded. The traces of their career into contact with the French in the are marked with every species of hor- neighbourhood of Wiasma. On the ror; at every step is seen the dying morning of the 20 November, he conand the dead, not merely those who founded the fugitive army by his unhave fallen in battle, but the victims expected appearance before this place ; of famine and fatigue. In two days, and as it was an object of great imeven in sight of my division, their des- portance to the enemy to facilitate the pair has blown up one hundred am movements of the other corps in their munition waggons, while the sudden retreat, a line of battle was immediatemovenient of my troops has compelled ly formed by Murat, Beauharnois, and them to leave untouched almost an Ney, with the troops under their comequal number. We destroy these fu- mand. But they were not allowed gitives wherever we meet them; and time to take advantage of the positions when they attempt to make a stand, which presented themselves ; and the the brave sons of the Don, assisted by resistance which they made was whole their artillery and the chasseurs, soon ly unavailing. They were assailed by relieve the empire of hundreds of its in- the Russians with such impetuosity,
VOL. V PART I.
that in spite of the insulated acts of but stood erect and threatening amid bravery to which the French were the desolation of nature. roused by despair, the contest was not From the moment that the Russian long sustained. The Russians pushed winter set in, the French seem to have them into the town at the point of the lost all their military ardour, They bayonet--the carnage was dreadful, and no longer thought of meeting their the enemy was compelled to give way enemies ; they scarcely even tried to in all directions. Beauharnois made a secure their retreat. Protection a. hasty retreat to Douchovechina ; Da- gainst the miseries which they suffervoust and Ney took the road to Do. ed ; relief from extreme hunger and rogonbouche, and the stragglers and piercing cold, formed the only objects, fugitives scattered themselves along the. of their future enterprises. The picbanks of the Dnieper, without purpose ture given by eye-witnesses of their and without hope. In this murderous famished appearance; their ghastly affair the French lost 6000 men killed mien, their frantic demeanour in this, and wounded, and 28 pieces of cannon. dreadful season, might obliterate for The pursuit was continued by the con a moment the recollection of their querors till darkness imposed a temcrimes, and drive from the mind every porary check on their ferocity. The other feeling, but that of pity for the night which followed was indeed dread. unfortunate victims. “ Many thouful to the scattered French ; now for sands,” we are told, “ died from cold the first time did the Russian winter, alone; famine destroyed still more ; which they had so much dreaded, but while others perished by the sabres of which their imaginations could form and bayonets of the Russians. Disbut a faint picture, set in with more eases, unheard.of before, seized the than usual severity. The fall of snow; unfortunate survivors; madness, prowas considerable, the frost became in- duced by extreme suffering, became; tense, and a new enemy, of which the frequent through the army; and the French had as yet no experience, thus most frantic and horrible deeds, wbich appeared to consummate the work history would willingly consign to already begun by famine, pestilence, oblivion, were committed by the sufand the Russian sword. Their leader, ferers. The Russians, however, were had, in the pride of conquest, taught insensible to the sufferings of their. them that they ought to despise a Rus- enemy; they had been too deeply in, sian winter, that they ought to rise su- jured by him to think for a moment perior to accident and circumstances., of the miseries which he endured ; He had made them believe that his, and had felt too sepsibly the insult foresight, his comprehensive genius, which his invasion had offered to their would make every provision for their country, to rest satisfied but with his comfort and security ; and now they destruction.' were destined to experience the fallacy The retreat of Beauharnois towards of all their expectations. The soft in. Dorogobauche, and, his attempt to. habitants of a warm climate sunk at cross the Dnieper at that point, were once under the trial which the hardy foreseen by the Russian general; and sons of the north heeded not; and the effectual measures were taken to im. genius and discipline of the finest Eu- pede his movements. The Cossacks, ropean army were compelled to give of whom Buonaparte about this time way before the native courage of the complained so much, followed the northern barbarians, which yielded not course of the retreating army; and to the accidents of climate and seasons, exerted themselves not only for his