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War And Peace 649

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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 days. 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 name. CHAPTER V 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, by Bogdanovich. 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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