Smorgoni, the Emperor bade farewell, before leaving the
army, to such of the general officers as he could gather
round him. He left at seven o'clock in the evening, accompanied
by Generals Duroc, Mouton, and Caulaincourt.
remained under the command of the King of Naples, and
were not too happy in our minds, for, though he was always
the first to draw a sabre or brave danger, he may truly
be said to have been the executioner of our cavalry.
kept his divisions constantly mounted - all along the
route, and they were more than enough to keep the Cossacks
at bay; but our cavalry were dying of starvation, and
when night came, the unfortunate soldiers were not able
to use their horses to go for forage.
For himself, the King of Naples had 20 or 30 relays of
horses, and every morning he started out on a fresh one.
was, indeed, the handsomest horseman in Europe; but without
foresight, for it was not a question of being an intrepid
soldier, but of being able to economize his resources.
He lost us (I heard this said to Marshal Davout) 40,000
horses through his mismanagement.
is always wrong to blame one's officers; but the Emperor
could have made a better selection. There were among our
leaders two warriors, rivals in glory, Marshal Ney and
Prince Beauharnais, who saved us from the greatest perils
by their coolness and courage.
King of Naples went on to Wilna; he arrived there on the
8th of December, and we with the Guard, on the 10th. It
was night when we came to the gates of the city, which
were barricaded with pieces of wood.
had the greatest difficulty in entering. I and my comrade
were lodged in a school, well warmed. When I went to my
general for orders, he said, "Be ready at four in the
morning to leave the city, for the enemy is now arriving
on the heights, and we shall be bombarded at daylight.
Do not lose any time."
soon as I returned to my lodgings, I made my preparations
to leave. I awoke my comrade, who would not listen to
me. He had got thawed, and preferred to remain in the
enemy's hands. At three o'clock I said to him, "Let us
"No," said he, "I shall stay where I am."
well, I shall kill you if you don't follow me."
right; kill me."
drew my sabre, and dealt him some stout blows with it,
thus forcing him to follow me. I loved my brave comrade,
and would not leave him to the enemy. We had scarcely
got ready to leave when the Russians forced the Witebsk
gate; we had barely time to get out.
committed the most horrible acts in the town. All the
unfortunate men who were still asleep in their lodgings,
were murdered, and the streets were strewn with the dead
bodies of Frenchmen. Here the Jews were the executioners
of our Frenchmen.