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In the mean time, the Russians closed in on every side; ana when, at last, the retreat began, the French were loaded, horses, carriages, and men, with plunder of every description :-the . army of Darius departing from Babylon did not exhibit a • more curious spectacle.'.
The battle of Malo-Jaroslavitz, which drove theni back to the line of their advance, completed the despair of the troops, who well knew what awaited them, in a country which they had done so much to ravage. Even at Borodino, a great quantity of their baggage was left behind. The dead bodies remaining on the field of battle there, were found in a state of congelation; and soon after, at Holoskoi, there was a heavy fall of snow, which increased the misery of the bivouacs. At Doroghoboi, the hospital took fire. M. Larrey himself escaped through the midst of the flames; and some of the wounded were burnt to death. The troops expected to find magazines at Smolensko, and to rest for some days; for horse flesh had been their only food till their arrival there, (November 4th): But they were bitterly disappointed. The thermometer had fallen to 11° below zerb (43° below the freeze ing point) of Fahrenheit; and the north-east wind was violent. This sudden increase of the cold destroyed great numbers of the young men and of the horses.
Those who were so pru. denť as to march on foot, and could obtain a little coffee and sugar, fared the best; but the cavalry and those in carriages were dreadful sufferers, from the freezing and mortification of their extremities. From hence to Krasnoi, the thermometer was at 15° below zero, (47° below freezing); and, in this space of four-and-twenty leagues, they did not find a single habitation.
It was in this short march, that we learned to prize the bodies of our horses :— A horse broken loose was instantly despatched, and cut to pieces almost alive. Wo to the animal that wandered some paces from his master! The division of this prey often gave rise to quar. rels, among persons of all ranks ; and even the women surmounted obstacles of every kind, to seize upon a share of it.' pp. 91, 92.
In this wretched state, being almost surrounded, they were obliged to give battle, on the 17th November. The rear-guard, and the old guards, were the only soldiers in a condition to fight: yet the bravery exhibited by the whole was admirable; the woinen who still remained with them assisting the wounded, even under the fire of the enemy. They left 1200 men upon the field; and this last attack completed the dissolution of the army, the guards alone retaining afterwards their arms and discipline.
At the memorable passage of the Berezina, the author himself escaped with considerable difficulty: he had returned to the east bank of the river, to secure some cases of surgical instruments; and must have perished, if he had not been recognised by the soldiers, who lifted him over their heads from one to another, and thus enabled him to regain the bridge a few hours before it broke down. It is remarkable, that the place where Bonaparte threw his bridges, was precisely that where Charles XII. was known to have crossed, in pursuit of the Russians, for the very purpose of avoiding the village of Borisow; yet this position was left altogether unguarded by General Formasoff, who seems to have confined his attention solely to the village. In the same manner, after the passage, the troops (for they had no longer any baggage) were enabled to escape by a well-known cross road, leading through defiles and forests, where the author says that a company of Cossacks, with a single gun, might have stopped the whole army: And thus they regained the great road at Smorgoni, two marches ahead of the enemy, who had, till then, been in their front.— From this last village Bonaparte decamped, leaving the command to Murat.
During the night of the 5th Deceniber, which they passed in bivouac, the thermometer fell rapidly to 9°, 11°, 13°, and 15° below zero, (41, 43, 45, and 47 below the freezing point.) • At our entry into Osmiana, my thermometer was at 24° below ze. ro; it fell during the night to 264°; and the bivouac was terrible ! I was myself so fortunate as to pass that fatal night in a warm chamber, and upon a little straw,-(M. Larrey, it will be recollected, was a Baron of the Empire, and at the head of the surgical staff), -after taking some food, with which one of my old companions in Egypt had the goodness to supply me. We marched the next morning before day, the thermometer being then at 29° below zero, and could scarcely hold ourselves erect, or perform the most simple movements. He who lost his equilibrium and fell to the ground. was instantly struck with an icy and mortal stupefaction. We found upon the road, a great number of dead of the 12th division, which had come to meet us at Osmiana. * I left in this village, with one of my surgical officers, all the wounded who wished to stay ;--I could not bear to see them die upon the road, without having the power to assist them. With the exception of some select troops of the guard, who still preserved their great coats or cloaks, their boots and gloves, the whole army was now in a state of frightful nakedness. Mixed in complete confusion, without arms, or any mark of distinction among the corps, they were nothing but a mass of wretched individuals, marching in a
• Of this division, commanded by General Loison, which consisted of 12,000 men at their departure from Wilna, only 360 got back to France. They were principally very young men.
crowd, and coinpelled by cold and weakness to press together, and lean upon each other for support.—But nothing could be more ludicrous, and at the same time more deplorable, than their habiliments.— They were covered with fragments of pelisses, cloaks, or morsels of stuff of different colours ; the fires of the bivouacs having gradually consumed their original garments.' pp. 105, 106.
At Miednicki, the thermometer at the author's button-hole, was at 31° below zero, (63° below freezing); and the whole army, without exception, was compelled to bivouac. • Wo be to him who gave way to his inclination to slumber: a few minutes were sufficient to freeze him entirely through, and he was left dead upon the place where he had fallen asleep.' There was now very little difference between the temperature of the days and nights; and the cold was nearly of the same intensity during all the rest of the march. • The sides of the road were strewed with the dead bodies of those who had perished during the night between the 8th and 9th;—and at last,' says M. Larrey, we were in such a state of torpor and depression, that it was with difficulty we could recognise each other ;we marched along in melancholy silence, our sight and muscular strength so much reduced, that we could hardly preserve our direction, or maintain our equilibrium ;-and when any of us fell, his com panions did not even turn aside to look at him. Though I was myself one of the most robust in the army, it was with the greatest difficulty that I arrived at Wilna. My strength and my courage were almost totally gone; I was just ready to fall, -no doubt, like so many other unfortunate beings who had perished before my eyes, never to have risen again.' pp. 106—7.
At Wilna, the soldiers devoured every thing they could seize upon; the misery and confusion if possible increased; and the mountain between that place and Kouno was nearly as fatal to those who still survived, as the passage of the Berezina. After crossing the Nieinen, being still pursued, some of the guard who preserved their arms attempted to rally, and fire upon the Cossacks; but the cold iron of the muskets de prived them of the use of their fingers, and they were obliged to retire.-About 3000 of the best soldiers of the guard, almost all natives of the south of France, were now the only survivors who preserved their horses, or retained any thing like a warlike appearance. The Dukes of Dantzic and 'Istria were at the head, Murat and Beauharnois in the centre of this body, -the last remnant of 400,000 men who had passed through this very country scarcely six months before, in the highest state of discipline and military splendour. The first night which the author passed at Gumbinen, it may well be supposed, was delightful : he there, for the first time since his departure from Moscow, enjoyed a plentiful meal, and slept in a comfortable bed. From thence he repaired to Koningsberg to prepare the
hospitals for the retreating troops; and arrived there, emaciated and worn out with fatigue, leading his last remaining horse by the bridle, on the night of the 21st December, at a temperature of 17° below zero, or 49% below the freezing point; and he had scarcely given his directions for the treatment of 10,000 sick and wounded, who were already collected in that place, when he was himself attacked with Typhus fever. It was not till the French arrived at Leipsic in the following March, that the retreat could properly be considered as at an end.
Subjoined to this narrative, there are some interesting observations on the effects of cold upon the human system.· The death of the unfortunate victims was generally preceded by paleness, a sort of idiotism, difficulty of speech, and weakness, or even total loss of sight. In this state some of them continued to march on, for a short time, helped along by their friends or comrades; but their muscular powers became insensibly weaker ; they staggered like drunken men, and fell at last entirely deprived of life. The fate of those who could not keep up with the columns was still more rapid, and the dead bodies were found lying on the face. The want of food materially aggravated the effects of the cold; and, to appease their hunger, the soldiers frequently swallowed snow or freezing water, which were often fatal. On the other hand, the author remarks, a small quantity of wine or coffee immediately calmed the sensation of hunger; and once, after three days of fasting, during which he had taken only a little coffee, a single glass of claret, which he drank with inexpressible delight, instantly put an end to the pangs he had been suffering for several hours. The greatest injuries maintained by the survivors, arose from their having approached the fires of the bivouacs, while their limbs were yet in part congealed,—which caused, in numberless instances, the mortification and loss of their extremities.
It was observed, universally, that individuals of what the author calls the bilioso-sanguine' temperament, with dark hair, and brown complexions, endured the cold much better than those of an opposite appearance: And hence the natives of the south of Europe fared better, during this lamentable retreat, than the Dutch * and Germans of the army ;-a fact, which our notions respecting the influence of habit on the animal economy, certainly would not have led us to expect. Even the Russians, the author asserts, lost more from cold, in proportion, than the French : and he was assured, by a physician long
Out of 1787 Dutchmen in the grenadiers of the guard, not more than 41, including officers, returned, two years afterwards, te France.
settled at Moscow, that the French inhabitants could walk the streets with impunity, during the depth of winter, in clothing comparatively light; while the Russians, wrapped in their warın pelisses, could hardly resist the cold.--He alleges also, that the natives of the south' retained their courage and mental energy, longer than the northern soldiers. And the Poles, who might seem to furnish an objection to this doctrine, he thinks on the contrary, support it; for he considers that people, as having originated in Asia Minor, and consequently as agreeing in character and constitution with the natives of the south of Europe. Itought, however, to be remembered, that M. Larrey is hizaself a Southern.
There was in reality no definite terinination to the campaign of le12 ; for the Russianis continued to advance, til! Buonaparte took the field again in the spring of 1813. We propose to make the events of that important year, the subject of a distinct article in the present Number: But there is one anecdote, in M. Larrey's account of the battle of Hanau, which we must insert in this place. Among the wounded upon that occasion, was a young officer, named Roissonian, who lost an arm by a cupon shot while advancing at the head of his colur. In this condition, he was retiring, when a second bullet carried off one of his legs. His father, a captain of the ex-guard, who had heard of the first accident, hasteneil to his relief; una taring his son upon his shoulders, entreated the assistance of M. Lrrey.He was pale, cold, and exhausted :---they stood apart, with only one assistant, close to the fire of the troops; and Larrey, not daring to ask the father to hoid his own son during the two amputations which were necessary, was looking round in vain for other help— Vous pouvez compter sur moi, me dit le capitaine, puisqu'il s'agit de sauver la vie de mon fils.' --The lather was perfectly firm; and the young man did not utter a single moan.— I completed both my operations, and dressed the wounds with the patient's linen and my own. I dared not, however, hope for his recovery ; but I advised his father to remove him to the nearest village, and to surrender himself to the enemy, that he might attend him during his illness. My advice was followed; and, to my great surprise, this young soldier paid me a visit on his return from prison in Germany, in October 1814.'-p. 450, &c.
The author naturally appears unwilling to dwell upon the misfortunes of his master; and sketches very rapi.ily the principal events of the campaign of France in 1814 ; the close of which (for he does not mention Waterloo) affirded him, he says, at last, the prospect of repose, after thirty years of service; during which he had taken a part in four-and-twenty different campaigns.