The retreat of the French [from Moscow] tr. from a Germ. pamphlet [of E. von Pfuel].

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1813
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Page 20 - ... every night frozen to death, and an equal number died of complete exhaustion by day; a line of dead bodies marked the road which the army was pursuing. Whole detachments now threw down their arms together ; order and discipline had altogether ceased ; the soldier cared no longer for the officer, nor the officer for the soldier ; each was so completely engaged with; his own wants and sufferings, that he disregarded those of others, and would neither command nor obey. The different regiments were...
Page 33 - ... given. At length, when the Russian batteries began to cannonade the bridge and both banks of the river, the crossing necessarily ceased, and a whole division of Victor's corps, consisting of seven thousand five hundred men, together with five generals, capitulated. Many thousands were drowned* and an equal number killed ; besides which, much baggage and cannon remained on the left bank.
Page 39 - Wretches, black with smoke and filth of every kind, crawled like ghosts among, the dead bodies of their fellow soldiers, till they themselves dropped and expired. Many hobbled on with bare and gangrened feet, almost deprived of reason; and others again had lost the use of speech, or, from the extreme severity of cold and famine, were driven to a kind of delirium which made them roast and devour corpses, or even gnaw their own hands and arms. Some were so helpless as not to be able to gather fuel,...
Page 38 - The road which the army followed was covered with dead bodies, and every bivouack appeared next morning like a field of battle. No sooner was a man fallen to the ground, exhausted with fatigue and hunger, than those who stood next to him, stripped him while yet alive to cover themselves with his rags. Every house and barn was set on fire: and wherever a conflagration had taken place, there also was found a pile of dead bodies, those who had approached the fire to warm themselves, having afterwards...
Page 37 - ... dresses, &c.] fortunate were the few who succeeded in providing themselves with a bit of fur. With downcast looks, and every other mark of dejection, both officers and soldiers moved slowly on together in mute dismay ; and even the guards were in no way superior to, or distinguishable from, the rest : they were equally tattered, famished and unarmed. All spirit of resistance and defence had ceased. At the mere cry of Cossacks ! whole columns surrendered, and a few of these were often sufficient...
Page 38 - The high road swarmed with prisoners, who almost ceased to be taken notice of, and scenes of distress occurred, such as had never before been witnessed. Wretches, black with smoke and filth of every kind, crawled like ghosts among, the dead bodies of their fellow soldiers, till they themselves dropped and expired. Many hobbled on with bare and gangrened feet, almost deprived of reason; and others again had lost the use of speech, or, from the extreme severity of cold and famine, were driven to a...
Page 37 - Another severe frost completed the measure of their suffer ings : arms were now thrown down in all directions : the greater number of soldiers had neither boots nor shoes ; but were compelled to make use of old hats and knapsacks, or any other kind of covering to fasten round their feet. Round their heads and shoulders they wrapped whatever first offered itself, and might serve as an additional protection against the cold, old sacks, straw mats half torn, and hides of animals recently skinned ; [dresses...
Page 19 - French army ; to bivouack upon ice and snow, without other food than frozen horse-flesh, without any kind of strengthening beverage, and without proper clothing, was more than human strength could endure. Many hundreds were every night frozen to death, and an equal number died of complete exhaustion by day; a line of dead bodies marked the road which the army was pursuing. Whole detachments now threw down their arms together ; order and discipline had altogether ceased ; the soldier cared no longer...
Page 22 - The magazines that were found there were of no great resource : for the share that was distributed to each man as a supply for several days, was at once devoured by the famished wretches, although the rations were not given in bread, but in meal. Many thousands indeed went away altogether unsupplied, each in the general struggle being obliged to obtain by force the portion that was allotted to him. A day had also been fixed for distributing ammunition ; but few soldiers appeared at the appointed...
Page 33 - ... the corps of Victor and Dombrowsky, being repulsed by the Russian armies, directed their flight to the bridge, confusion and terror increased, and were soon at their highest pitch. Cavalry, infantry, baggage and artillery struggled respectively to pass over the first. The weaker were forced into the river by the stronger, whose progress they impeded, or were trampled under foot : officers and privates met with the same fate : hundreds were crushed under the wheels of the...

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