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War And Peace 648

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Anna Karenina

War And Peace

in the deep chest tones in which she had been wont to sing, and listened attentively to herself. She did not know and would not have believed it, but beneath the layer of slime that covered her soul and seemed to her impenetrable, delicate young shoots of grass were already sprouting, which taking root would so cover with their living verdure the grief that weighed her down that it would soon no longer be seen or noticed. The wound had begun to heal from within. At the end of January Princess Mary left for Moscow, and the count insisted on Natashas going with her to consult the doctors. CHAPTER IV After the encounter at Vyazma, where Kutuzov had been unable to hold back his troops in their anxiety to overwhelm and cut off the enemy and so on, the farther movement of the fleeing French, and of the Russians who pursued them, continued as far as Krasnoe without a battle. The flight was so rapid that the Russian army pursuing the French could not keep up with them; cavalry and artillery horses broke down, and the information received of the movements of the French was never reliable. The men in the Russian army were so worn out by this continuous marching at the rate of twenty-seven miles a day that they could not go any faster. To realize the degree of exhaustion of the Russian army it is only necessary to grasp clearly the meaning of the fact that, while not losing more than five thousand killed and wounded after Tarutino and less than a hundred prisoners, the Russian army which left that place a hundred thousand strong reached Krasnoe with only fifty thousand. The rapidity of the Russian pursuit was just as destructive to our army as the flight of the French was to theirs. The only difference was that the Russian army moved voluntarily, with no such threat of destruction as hung over the French, and that the sick Frenchmen were left behind in enemy hands while the sick Russians left behind were among their own people. The chief cause of the wastage of Napoleons army was the rapidity of its movement, and a convincing proof of this is the corresponding decrease of the Russian army. Kutuzov as far as was in his power, instead of trying to check the movement of the French as was desired in Petersburg and by the Russian army generals, directed his whole activity here, as he had done at Tarutino and Vyazma, to hastening it on while easing the movement of our army. But besides this, since the exhaustion and enormous diminution of the army caused by the rapidity of the advance had become evident, another reason for slackening the pace and delaying presented itself to Kutuzov. The aim of the Russian army was to pursue the French. The road the French would take was unknown, and so the closer our troops trod on their heels the greater distance they had to cover. Only by following at some distance could one cut across the zigzag path of the French. All the artful maneuvers suggested by our generals meant fresh movements of the army and a lengthening of its marches, whereas the only reasonable aim was to shorten those marches. To that end Kutuzovs activity was directed during the whole campaign from Moscow to Vilna--not casually or intermittently but so consistently that he never once deviated from it. Kutuzov felt and knew--not by reasoning or science but with the whole of his Russian being--what every Russian soldier felt: that the French were beaten, that the enemy was flying and must be driven out; but at the same time he like the soldiers realized all the hardship of this march, the rapidity of which was unparalleled for such a time of the year. But to the generals, especially the foreign ones in the Russian army, who wished to distinguish themselves, to astonish somebody, and for some reason to capture a king or a duke--it seemed that now--when any battle must be horrible and senseless--was the very time to fight and conquer somebody. Kutuzov merely shrugged his shoulders when one after another they presented projects of maneuvers to be made with those soldiers--ill-shod, insufficiently clad, and half starved--who within a month and without fighting a battle had dwindled to half their number, and who at the best if the flight continued would have to go a greater distance than they had already traversed, before they reached the frontier. This longing to distinguish themselves, to maneuver, to overthrow, and to cut off showed itself particularly whenever the Russians stumbled on

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