Emma Watson Pussy
War And Peace
the French army.
So it was at Krasnoe, where they expected to find one of the three
French columns and stumbled instead on Napoleon himself with sixteen
thousand men. Despite all Kutuzovs efforts to avoid that ruinous
encounter and to preserve his troops, the massacre of the broken mob
of French soldiers by worn-out Russians continued at Krasnoe for three
Toll wrote a disposition: "The first column will march to so and
so," etc. And as usual nothing happened in accord with the
disposition. Prince Eugene of Wurttemberg fired from a hill over the
French crowds that were running past, and demanded reinforcements
which did not arrive. The French, avoiding the Russians, dispersed and
hid themselves in the forest by night, making their way round as
best they could, and continued their flight.
Miloradovich, who said he did not want to know anything about the
commissariat affairs of his detachment, and could never be found
when he was wanted--that chevalier sans peur et sans reproche* as he
styled himself--who was fond of parleys with the French, sent envoys
demanding their surrender, wasted time, and did not do what he was
ordered to do.
*Knight without fear and without reproach.
"I give you that column, lads," he said, riding up to the troops and
pointing out the French to the cavalry.
And the cavalry, with spurs and sabers urging on horses that could
scarcely move, trotted with much effort to the column presented to
them--that is to say, to a crowd of Frenchmen stark with cold,
frost-bitten, and starving--and the column that had been presented
to them threw down its arms and surrendered as it had long been
anxious to do.
At Krasnoe they took twenty-six thousand prisoners, several
hundred cannon, and a stick called a "marshals staff," and disputed
as to who had distinguished himself and were pleased with their
achievement--though they much regretted not having taken Napoleon,
or at least a marshal or a hero of some sort, and reproached one
another and especially Kutuzov for having failed to do so.
These men, carried away by their passions, were but blind tools of
the most melancholy law of necessity, but considered themselves heroes
and imagined that they were accomplishing a most noble and honorable
deed. They blamed Kutuzov and said that from the very beginning of the
campaign he had prevented their vanquishing Napoleon, that he
thought of nothing but satisfying his passions and would not advance from
the Linen Factories because he was comfortable there, that at
Krasnoe he checked the advance because on learning that Napoleon was
there he had quite lost his head, and that it was probable that he had
an understanding with Napoleon and had been bribed by him, and so
on, and so on.
Not only did his contemporaries, carried away by their passions, talk
in this way, but posterity and history have acclaimed Napoleon as
grand, while Kutuzov is described by foreigners as a crafty,
dissolute, weak old courtier, and by Russians as something
indefinite--a sort of puppet useful only because he had a Russian
In 1812 and 1813 Kutuzov was openly accused of blundering. The
Emperor was dissatisfied with him. And in a history recently written
by order of the Highest Authorities it is said that Kutuzov was a
cunning court liar, frightened of the name of Napoleon, and that by
his blunders at Krasnoe and the Berezina he deprived the Russian
army of the glory of complete victory over the French.*
*History of the year 1812. The character of Kutuzov and
reflections on the unsatisfactory results of the battles at Krasnoe,
Such is the fate not of great men (grands hommes) whom the Russian
mind does not acknowledge, but of those rare and always solitary
individuals who, discerning the will of Providence, submit their
personal will to it. The hatred and contempt of the crowd punish
such men for discerning the higher laws.
For Russian historians, strange and terrible to say, Napoleon--that
most insignificant tool of history who never anywhere, even in exile,
showed human dignity--Napoleon is the object of adulation and
enthusiasm; he is grand. But Kutuzov--the man who from the beginning
to the end of his activity in 1812, never once swerving by word or
deed from Borodino to Vilna, presented an example exceptional in
history of self-sacrifice and a present consciousness of the future
importance of what was happening--Kutuzov seems to them something
indefinite and pitiful, and when speaking of him and of the year 1812
they always seem a little ashamed.
And yet it is difficult to imagine an historical character whose
activity was so unswervingly directed to
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