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Still we cannot altogether approve the conduct of the Russian general. Undeniably brave, and, in ordinary circumstances, we have no doubt, sufficiently skilful, he does not seem to have been quite equal to the very great difficulties of his situation, Instead of moving on every point with the greatest celerity; of multiplying himself by the rapidity of his maneuvres and marches, and of adopting a system of movements calculated to distract the attention of the enemy, and destroy his detachments in detail ; he appears to have moved forward with the most scru: pulous deliberation, to have executed his evolutions with the utmost gravity and precision, and to have, as the French say, tatonné le terrain with incredible caution.
The Admiral took the command of the united armies of the Danube and Volhynia, posted behind the Styr, on the fifteenth and seventeenth of September. Schwartzenberg was not compelled to recross the Bug till the tenth of October ; and Chichagoff did not quit the banks of that river until the twenty-seventh. On the thirteenth of November his advanced guard fought at Suerjin ; on the fifteenth at Kaidanovo; on the sixteenth he entered Minsk without opposition, and staid there till the nineteenth, busily employed in rough-shoeing his horses. On the twenty-first the tête de pont of Borisow was gallantly stormed by the division of General Lambert; on the twenty-third Count Pahlen was sent to Bobr for no other purpose, that we can guess, than that of being beaten. On the twenty-eighth, Chichagoff fought a drawn battle with the Duke of Reggio, and Wittgenstein drove Victor across the Beresina. Let any one trace on the map the Admiral's marches from the banks of the Styr, first to Brjest-Litowski, on the Bug, and then to the places we have just named ; let him next refer to the space of timne included within the dates of the seventeenth of September, and the 28th November; and then find out, if he can, a satisfactory reason for the long and leisurely intervals between the Admiral's busy days.
But this is not all : General Hertel was stationed with fifteen thousand men at Bobruisk, under the Admiral's command, and repeated orders, both verbal and in writing, were sent bim to co-operate with his commanding officer. These orders he disobeyed; at first, peremptorily; and afterwards, it is here said, on the ridiculous pretext, that an infectious cattle distemper prevailed in the country, to which he was afraid of exposing
himself. If this strange story be correct, the condụct of General Hertel can be aceounted for only on the supposition of idiocy or treachery; and we find it almost equally difficult to excuse the want of decision and energy in Chichagoff, who was bound instantly to supersede Hertel. This was so obviously necessary, 28 to give a very mysterious air to the whole transaction; and tends, with other considerations, to make us exceedingly doubt the fidelity of the whole narrative. It does, indeed, sometimes happen, in military, as well as in civil transactions, that in very critical conjunctures, very strange collocations of block heads take place; but that there should be found, in circumstances of so great emergency, three such inefficient beings as this pamphlet describes the nameless governor of Minsk, Hertel, and the Admiral, to be, we find difficulty in believing without better evidence.
It is indeed unfortunate for Admiral Chichagoff, whom we believe to be a brave and good soldier, that the Eye-witness', and the Annotator, think it necessary to clear him at the expense of so many other commanding officers. Hertel we may feel very indifferent about;-Kutusoff might be tardy in his movements ;-but Wittgenstein we cannot consent to give up; and we are disposed to censure, as worse than absurd, any arrangement which would have placed bim under the command of a naval officer.
It is extremely suspicious too, that none of the obviously partial statements of the text, even when they make the grossest pretensions to military superiority, in behalf of the French, are ever contradicted by the Russian annotator, till they interfere with the Admiral's claims to victory. Then he can very readily point out the absurd inconsistency evident between different points of the narrator's details. Who, for instance, will believe a Frenchman, when he represents the raw militia of Wittgenstein as, in fact, equivalent to the veteran troops of Reggio and Belluno ;-who but must smile when he talks of the glorious $ conflict of Marshal Victor, who had not fifteen thousand
men, with General Wittgen-tein, who had forty-five thou
sand;'--and yet these palpable nationalities do not call forth the slightest animadversion from the writer of the notes !
Again, when this veridical · Eye-witness' describes the disastrous passage of the Beresina, he expressly asserts, that when the bridges were blown up, there remained only a crowd of un
fortunate beings, scarcely any of them soldiers ;' but, on the other, hand, we have the assurance of Labauine, that ' more • than twenty thousand sick and wounded fell into the hands of ☆ the enemy. · The following sixty pages exhibit a laboured, and, as it appears to us, extremely weak attempt to criminate the conduct of Count Wittgenstein. According to this knot of incoherent 'hypotheses he ought, in every instance, to have done precisely the opposite of what he actually did do It really surprises us that any man can be so completely blindeti bý personal antipathy and national vanity, as not to porceive that this indiscriminating censure defeats its own object. If Count W, was so perfectly in
efficient, how happened it that he not only kept the French generals so completely and so long at bay, but was constantly gaining ground? How came it that the army of the Dwina, composed almost wholly of militia, and, according to the ‘Eyewitness, so wretchedly commanded, was yet continually advancing, and, at last, found itself victorious on the Beresina ?
It is asserted, that instead of following Victor, the Count should have pressed forward to the Beresina, without regard to the troops to which he had been opposed. But, on the other hand, it is perfectly clear, that if he had acted thus, the whole system of operation must have been changed; and, as it would seem, entirely in favour of the French. It could have been the presence only of Wittgenstein, that detained Victor and Oudinot between the Nieper and the Beresina, and but for the apprehensions occasioned by the army of the Dwina, Oudinot would himself, without reference to the governor of Minsk, or any other officer, have held both banks of the Beresina ; and the division of Belluno, or even strong detachments, would have been amply sufficient to maintain the communications on the Moscow road. That all this would have been in favour of Napoleon, there can be no doubt : the passage of the Beresina would have been secured, his army strengthened by the addition of refreshed and unharrassed troops, the pressure on his rear-guard taken off, all his movements would have been unfettered, and the combined armies of Chichagoff and Wittgenstein rendered utterly incapable of intersecting the march of his united and concentrated force. All this, and much more than this, would have been the effect of Count W.'s movement on the right bank of the Beresina. Our speculations are strengthened by the actual conduct of the Duke of Reggio, who was no sooner aware of the conduct of the governor of Minsk, than he countermarched on Borisow, and made every effort for the recovery of the bridge.
These brief comments may, perhaps, serve to shew the absurdity, or the injustice of arguing as the 'Eye-witness' does, and of marking out a line of action for one general, without reference to the movement of another; without allowing for the maneuvres of his opponent; and without including in his calculations the altered circumstances which changes in conduct must necessarily draw after them.
For the sest, we believe it to have been well for Napoleon, personally, that Prince Bagration had fallen on the field of Borodino. Of the merits of that illustrious officer, too much cannot be said : in losing him, Russia lost at once her shield and her sword ;-ber Fabius and her Marcellus.
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