came to a beautiful plateau. The Emperor reviewed the
prisoners. The snow fell so heavily that every one was
covered with it; we could not see one another. But behind
us a frightful scene was being enacted.
we had left the bridge the Russians directed the fire
of their batteries upon the crowd, which surrounded the
our position we could see these unfortunate creatures
rush for the bridges; then the wagons overturned and all
were swallowed up under the ice. No one could give any
idea of this sight.
bridges were burned the next day at half-past eight o'clock.
cold grew more and more intense; the horses in the bivouacs
died of hunger and cold. Every day some were left where
we had passed the night.
roads were like glass. The horses fell down, and could
not get up. Our worn-out soldiers no longer had strength
to their arms. The barrels of their muskets were so cold
that they stuck to their hands. It was 28 degrees below
zero. But the guard gave up their sacks and muskets only
with their lives.
order to save our lives, we had to eat the horses that
fell down on the ice. The soldiers opened the skin with
their knives and took out the entrails, which they roasted
on the coals - if they had time to make a fire - and,
if not, they ate them raw. They devoured the horses before
they died. I also ate this food as long as the horses
far Wilna we travelled by short stages with the Emperor.
His whole staff marched along the sides of the road.
men of the demoralized army marched along like prisoners,
without arms or knapsacks. There was no longer any human
feeling for one another. Each man looked out for himself.
sentiment of humanity extinguished. No one would have
reached out his to his father; and that can be easily
understood. For who stooped down to help his fellow would
not be to rise again.
had to march fight on, making faces prevent our noses
and ears from freezing. The men became insensible to every
human feeling. No one murmured against our misfortunes.
The men fell frozen stiff all along the road.
by chance, any of them came upon a bivouac of other unfortunate
creatures who thawing themselves, the new-comers pitilessly
pushed them aside, and took possession of their fire.
The poor creatures would then lie down to die upon the
must have seen these horrors in order to believe them!
can certify that on the retreat from Moscow we marched
more than 40 leagues without knapsacks or guns. But it
was at Wilna that we suffered most. The weather, so severe
that the men could no longer endure it; even the ravens
During this fearful cold, I was sent to the general who
had charge of the trophies taken at Moscow, with an order
to have them thrown into a lake to the right of our road.
the same time the treasure was abandoned to the stragglers.
The wretches seized upon it, and burst open the casks.
Three-fourths of them were frozen to death beside their
plunder. Their burdens were so heavy that they fell.
I rejoined my post after the greatest possible difficulty,
and that I did so was owing to my unshod horse, which
did not slide.
am sure that a man reduced to the same condition of weakness
could not have been able to carry 500 francs. I had 700
francs of my savings in my portmanteau. My horse was so
weak that he began to go to sleep. I perceived this, and,
taking my bag, I went to see my old friends the grousers
in their bivouac, and proposed to them to rid me of my
me 20 francs in gold, and I will give you 25 francs."
They all did so with pleasure, and I was unburdened, for
I would have left them on the spot. All my fortune now
consisted of 83 napoleons and this saved my life.