Emma Watson Pussy
War And Peace
over the dying beast.
Ermolov, Miloradovich, Platov, and others in proximity to the French
near Vyazma could not resist their desire to cut off and break up
two French corps, and by way of reporting their intention to Kutuzov
they sent him a blank sheet of paper in an envelope.
And try as Kutuzov might to restrain the troops, our men attacked,
trying to bar the road. Infantry regiments, we are told, advanced to
the attack with music and with drums beating, and killed and lost
thousands of men.
But they did not cut off or overthrow anybody and the French army,
closing up more firmly at the danger, continued, while steadily
melting away, to pursue its fatal path to Smolensk.
BOOK FOURTEEN: 1812
The Battle of Borodino, with the occupation of Moscow that
followed it and the flight of the French without further conflicts, is
one of the most instructive phenomena in history.
All historians agree that the external activity of states and
nations in their conflicts with one another is expressed in wars,
and that as a direct result of greater or less success in war the
political strength of states and nations increases or decreases.
Strange as may be the historical account of how some king or emperor,
having quarreled with another, collects an army, fights his enemys
army, gains a victory by killing three, five, or ten thousand men, and
subjugates a kingdom and an entire nation of several millions, all the
facts of history (as far as we know it) confirm the truth of the
statement that the greater or lesser success of one army against
another is the cause, or at least an essential indication, of an
increase or decrease in the strength of the nation--even though it is
unintelligible why the defeat of an army--a hundredth part of a
nation--should oblige that whole nation to submit. An army gains a
victory, and at once the rights of the conquering nation have
increased to the detriment of the defeated. An army has suffered
defeat, and at once a people loses its rights in proportion to the
severity of the reverse, and if its army suffers a complete defeat the
nation is quite subjugated.
So according to history it has been found from the most ancient
times, and so it is to our own day. All Napoleons wars serve to
confirm this rule. In proportion to the defeat of the Austrian army
Austria loses its rights, and the rights and the strength of France
increase. The victories of the French at Jena and Auerstadt destroy
the independent existence of Prussia.
But then, in 1812, the French gain a victory near Moscow. Moscow
is taken and after that, with no further battles, it is not Russia
that ceases to exist, but the French army of six hundred thousand, and
then Napoleonic France itself. To strain the facts to fit the rules of
history: to say that the field of battle at Borodino remained in the
hands of the Russians, or that after Moscow there were other battles
that destroyed Napoleons army, is impossible.
After the French victory at Borodino there was no general engagement
nor any that were at all serious, yet the French army ceased to exist.
What does this mean? If it were an example taken from the history of
China, we might say that it was not an historic phenomenon (which is
the historians usual expedient when anything does not fit their
standards); if the matter concerned some brief conflict in which
only a small number of troops took part, we might treat it as an
exception; but this event occurred before our fathers eyes, and for
them it was a question of the life or death of their fatherland, and
it happened in the greatest of all known wars.
The period of the campaign of 1812 from the battle of Borodino to
the expulsion of the French proved that the winning of a battle does
not produce a conquest and is not even an invariable indication of
conquest; it proved that the force which decides the fate of peoples
lies not in the conquerors, nor even in armies and battles, but in
The French historians, describing the condition of the French army
before it left Moscow, affirm that all was in order in the Grand Army,
except the cavalry, the artillery, and the transport--there was no
forage for the horses or the cattle. That was a misfortune no one
could remedy, for the peasants of the district burned their hay rather
than let the French have it.
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