Beaupre was taken prisoner at the passage of the Beresina and remained in captivity for some time. His lot as a prisoner of war was an exceptionally good one. He tells us that prisoners when they were out of such parts of the country as had been ravaged by the armies, received regular rations of a very good quality, and were lodged by eight, ten, and twelve, with the peasants. In the provincial capitals, they received furs of sheep skin, fur bonnets, gloves, and coarse woolen stockings, a sort of dress that appeared to them grotesque as well as novel, but which was very precious as a protection against the cold during the winter. When arrived at the places in which they were to pass the time of their captivity they found their lot ameliorated, and the reception accorded to them demanded a grateful eulogy of the hospitality exercised by the Russians.

Quite different was the experience of a very young German, Karl Schehl, a private whose memoirs have been kept in his family, and were recently published by one of his grand-nephews. After a battle on the retreat from Moscow he, with many others, was taken prisoner by Cossacks, who at once plundered the captives. Schehl was deprived of his uniform, his breeches, his boots. He had a gold ring on his ring finger, and one of the Cossacks, thinking it too much trouble to remove the ring in the natural way, had already drawn his sabre to cut off the prisoner's left hand, when an officer saw this and gave the brutal Cossack a terrible blow in the face; he then removed the ring without hurting the boy and kept it for himself. Another officer took Schehl's gold watch. Schehl stood then with no other garment but a shirt, and barefoot, in the bitter cold, not daring to approach the bivouac fire.

The Cossacks (on examining the garments of Schehl), found in one of the pockets a B clarinette. This discovery gave them great pleasure; they induced their captive to play for them, and he played, chilled to the bone in his scanty costume. But now the Cossacks came to offer him garments, a regular outfit for the Russian winter. They gave him food to eat and did all they could to show their appreciation of the music. What a rapid change of fortune within two hours, writes Schehl. Toward noon, riding a good horse, with considerable money in Russian bank notes and a valuable gold watch in his possession, all brought from Moscow, at 1 p.m. he stood dressed in a shirt only, with his bare feet on the frozen ground, and at 2 p. m. he was admired as an artist by a large audience that gave him warm clothes, which meant protection against the danger of freezing to death, and a place near the fire.

During that afternoon and the following night more French soldiers of all arms, mostly emaciated and miserable, were escorted to the camp by Russian militia, peasants, armed with long, sharp lances. It was the night from October 30th. to 31st., at the time of the first snowfall, with a temperature of - 12 deg. Reaumur (about 5 degrees above zero Fahrenheit). Of the 700 prisoners, many of them deprived of their clothing, as Schehl had been deprived, who had to camp without a fire, quite a number did not see the next morning, and the already described snow hills indicated where these unfortunates had reached the end of their sufferings. The commanding officer of the Cossacks ordered the surviving prisoners to fall in line for the march back to Moscow. The escort consisted of two Cossacks and several hundred peasant-soldiers. Within sixteen hours the 700 had been reduced to 500. And they had to march back over the road which they had come yesterday as companions of their emperor. The march was slow, they were hardly an hour on the road when here and there one of the poor, half naked, starving men fell into the snow; immediately was he pierced with the lance of one of the peasant soldiers who shouted stopai sukinsin (forward you dog), but as a rule the one who had fallen was no longer able to obey the brutal command. Two Russian peasant soldiers would then take hold, one at each leg, and drag the dying man with the head over snow and stones until he was dead, then leave the corpse in the middle of the road. In the woods they would practice the same cruelties as the North American Indians, tie those who could not rise to a tree and amuse themselves by torturing the victim to death with their lances. And, says Schehl, I could narrate still other savageries, but they are too revolting, they are worse than those of the savage Indians. Fortunately, Schehl himself was protected from all molestations by the peasants by the two Cossacks of the escort. He was even taken into the provision wagon where he could ride between bundles of hay and straw. On the evening of the first day's march the troops camped in a birch forest. Russian people are fond of melancholy music; Schehl played for them adagios on his clarinette, and the Cossacks gave him the best they had to eat. His comrades, now reduced to 400 in number, received no food and were so terror-stricken or so feeble that only from time to time they emitted sounds of clamor. Some would crawl into the snow and perish, while those who kept on moving were able to prolong their miserable lives. The second night took away 100 more, so that the number of prisoners was reduced to less than 300 on the morning of October 31st. During the night from October 31st. to November 1st. more than one-half of the prisoners who had come into the camp had perished, and there were only about 100 men left to begin the march. This mortality was frightful. Schehl thinks that the peasants killed many during the night in order to be relieved of their guard duty. For the Cossacks would send the superfluous guardsmen away and retain only as many as one for every four prisoners. They saw that the completely exhausted Frenchmen could be driven forward like a herd of sick sheep, and hardly needed any guard. In the morning we passed a village, writes Schehl, in which stood some houses which had not been burned. The returned inhabitants were busy clearing away the rubbish and had built some provisional straw huts. I sat as harmless as possible on my wagon when suddenly a girl in one of the straw huts screamed loud Matuschka! Matuschka! Franzusi! Franzusi Niewolni! (Mother! mother! Frenchmen! French prisoners!), and now sprang forward a large woman, armed with a thick club and struck me such a powerful blow on the head that I became unconscious. When I opened my eyes again the woman struck me once more, this time on my left shoulder and so violently that I screamed. My arm was paralyzed from the stroke. Fortunately, one of the Cossacks came to my rescue, scolded the woman, and chased her away.

On the evening of November 1st., the troops came to a village through which no soldiers had passed, which had not been disturbed by the war. Of the prisoners only 60 remained alive, and these were lodged in the houses.

Schehl describes the interior of the houses of Russian peasants as well as the customs of the Russian peasants, which description is highly interesting, and I shall give a brief abstract of it.

The houses are all frame buildings with a thatched roof, erected upon a foundation of large unhewn stones, the interstices of which are filled with clay, and built in an oblong shape, of strong, round pine logs placed one on top of the other. Each layer is stuffed with moss, and the ends of the logs are interlocking. The buildings consist of one story only, with a very small, unvaulted cellar.

Usually there are only two rooms in these houses, and wealthy peasants use both of them for their personal requirements; the poorer classes, on the other hand, use only one of the rooms for themselves, and the other for their horses, cows, and pigs.

The most prominent part of the interior arrangement of these rooms is the oven, covering about six feet square, with a brick chimney in the houses of the wealthy, but without chimney in those of the poor, so that the smoke must pass through the door giving a varnished appearance to the entire ceiling over the door.

There are no chairs in the rooms; during the day broad benches along the walls and oven are used instead. At night, the members of the household lie down to sleep on these benches, using any convenient piece of clothing for a pillow. It seems the Russian peasant of one hundred years ago considered beds a luxury.

Every one of these houses, those of the rich as well as those of the poor, contains in the easterly corner of the sitting room a cabinet with more or less costly sacred images.

On entering the room the newcomer immediately turns his face toward the cabinet, crossing himself three times in the Greek fashion, simultaneously inclining his head, and not until this act of devotion has been performed does he address individually every one present. In greeting, the family name is never mentioned, only the first name, to which is added: Son of so and so (likewise the first name only), but the inclination of the head - pagoda like - is never omitted.

All the members of the household say their very simple prayers in front of the cabinet; at least, I never heard them say anything else but Gospodin pomilui (O Lord, have mercy upon us); but such a prayer is very fatiguing for old and feeble persons because Gospodin pomilui is repeated at least 24 times, and every repetition is accompanied with a genuflection and a prostration, naturally entailing a great deal of hardship owing to the continued exertion of the entire body.

In addition to the sacred cabinet, the oven, and the benches, every one of the rooms contains another loose bench about six feet long, a table of the same length, and the kvass barrel which is indispensable to every Russian.

This cask is a wooden vat of about 50 to 60 gallons capacity, standing upright, the bottom of which is covered with a little rye flour and wheat bran - the poor use chaff of rye - upon which hot water is poured. The water becomes acidulated in about 24 hours and tastes like water mixed with vinegar. A little clean rye straw is placed inside of the vat, in front of the bunghole, allowing the kvass to run fairly clear into the wooden cup. When the vat is three-quarters empty more water is added; this must be done very often, as the kvass barrel with its single drinking cup - placed always on top of the barrel - is regarded as common property. Every member of the household and every stranger draws and drinks from it to their heart's content, without ever asking permission of the owner of the house. Kvass is a very refreshing summer drink, especially in the houses of wealthy peasants who need not be particular with their rye flour and who frequently renew the original ingredients of the concoction.

The peasant soldiers took the most comfortable places; for Schehl and his nine comrades, who were lodged with him in one of the houses, straw was given to make a bed on the floor, but most of the nine syntrophoi were so sick and feeble that they could not make their couch, and six could not even eat the pound of bread which every one had received; they hid the remaining bread under the rags which represented their garments. Schehl, although he could not raise his left arm, helped the sick, notwithstanding the pain he suffered, to spread the straw on the floor. On the morning of the 2d. of November the sick, who had not been able to eat all their bread, were dead. Schehl, while the surviving ones were still asleep, took the bread which he found on the corpses, to hide it in his sheepskin coat. This inheritance was to be the means of saving his life; without it he would have starved to death while a prisoner in Moscow.

They left this village with now only 29 prisoners and arrived on the same evening, reduced to 11 in number, in Moscow, where they were locked up in one of the houses, together with many other prisoners. Of the 700 fellow prisoners of Schehl 689 had died during the four days and four nights of hunger, cold, and most barbaric cruelties. If the prisoners had hoped to be saved from further cruelties while in Moscow they were bitterly disappointed. First of all, their guards took from them all they themselves could use, and on this occasion Schehl lost his clarinette which he considered as his life saver. Fortunately, they did not take from him the six pieces of bread. After having been searched the prisoners were driven into a room which was already filled with sick or dying, lying on the floor with very little and bad straw under them. The newcomers had difficulties to find room for themselves among these other unfortunates. The guards brought a pail of fresh water but nothing to eat. In a room with two windows, which faced the inner court-yard, were locked up over 30 prisoners, and all the other rooms in the building were filled in the same way. During the night from November 2d. to November 3d. several of Schehl's companions died and were thrown through the window into the court yard, after the jailors had taken from the corpses whatever they could use. Similar acts were performed in the other rooms, and it gave the survivors a little more room to stretch their limbs. This frightful condition lasted six days and six nights, during which time no food was given to them. The corpses in the yard were piled up so high that the pile reached up to the windows. It was 48 hours since Schehl had eaten the last of the six pieces of bread, and he was so tortured by hunger that he lost all courage, when at 10 o'clock in the forenoon a Russian officer entered and in German ordered the prisoners to get ready within an hour for roll call in the court yard, because the interimistic commanding officer of Moscow, Colonel Orlowski, was to review them. Immediately before this took place, the prisoners had held a counsel among themselves whether it would be wise to offer themselves for Russian military service in order to escape the imminent danger of starving to death. When that officer so unexpectedly had entered, Schehl, although the youngest - he was only 15 years of age - but relatively the strongest, because he was the last of them who had had a little to eat, rose with difficulty from his straw bed and made the offer, saying that they were at present very weak and sick from hunger, but that they would soon regain their strength if they were given something to eat. The officer in a sarcastic and rough manner replied: "His Majesty our glorious Emperor, Alexander, has soldiers enough and does not need you dogs." He turned and left the room, leaving the unfortunates in a state of despair. Toward 11 o'clock he returned, ordering the prisoners to descend the stairs and fall in line in the court yard. All crawled from their rooms, 80 in number, and stood at attention before the colonel, who was a very handsome and strong man, six foot tall, with expressive and benevolent features. The youth of Schehl made an impression on him, and he asked in German: "My little fellow, are you already a soldier?"

S. At your service, colonel.

C. How old are you?

S. Fifteen years, colonel.

C. How is it possible that you at your young age came into service?

S. Only my passion for horses induced me to volunteer my services in the most beautiful regiment of France, as trumpeter.

C. Can you ride horseback and take care of horses?

S. At your service, colonel!

C. Where are the many prisoners who have been brought here, according to reports there should be 800.

S. What you see here, colonel, is the sad remainder of those 800 men. The others have died.

C. Is there an epidemic disease in this house?

S. Pardon me, colonel, but those comrades of mine have all died from starvation; for during the six days we are here we received no food.

C. What you say, little fellow, cannot be true, for I have ordered to give you the prescribed rations of bread, meat, and brandy, the same as are given to the Russian soldiers, and this has been the will of the Czar.

S. Excuse me, colonel, I have told the truth, and if you will take the pains to walk into the rear yard you will see the corpses.

The colonel went and convinced himself of the correctness of my statement. He returned in the greatest anger, addressed some officer in Russian, gave some orders and went along the front to hear Schehl's report confirmed by several other prisoners. The officer who had received orders returned, accompanied by six Uhlans, each of the latter with hazelnut sticks. Now the jailors were called and had to deliver everything which they had taken from their prisoners; unfortunately, Schehl's clarinette was not among the articles that were returned. And now Schehl witnessed the most severe punishment executed on the jailors. They had to remove their coats and were whipped with such cannibal cruelty that bloody pieces of flesh were torn off their backs, and some had to be carried from the place. They deserved severe punishment, for they had sold all the food which during six days had been delivered to them for 800 men.

The surviving prisoners were now treated well, the colonel took Schehl with him to do service in his castle.

The case of Karl Schehl is a typical one.

Holzhausen has collected a great many similar ones from family papers, which never before had been published. All the writers of these papers speak, exactly like Schehl, in plain, truthful language, and the best proof of their veracity is that all, independent of each other, tell the same story of savage cruelty and of robbery. All, in narrating their experiences, do not omit any detail, all give dates and localities which they had retained exactly from those fearful days which had left the most vivid impressions. There is much repetition in these narrations, for all had experienced the same.

All tell that the Cossacks were the first to rob the prisoners. These irregular soldiers received no pay and considered it their right to compensate themselves for the hardships of the campaign by means of robbery.

Besides the tales collected by Holzhausen I can refer to many other writers, Frenchmen, the Englishman Wilson, and even Russians among them, but the material is so voluminous that I shall confine myself to select only what concerned physicians who were taken prisoners.

The Bavarian Sanitary Corps, captured at Polotsk, after having been mercilessly robbed by Cossacks, was brought before a Russian General, who did not even take notice of them. It was only after Russian physicians interfered in their behalf that they obtained a hearing of their grievances.

Prisoners tell touching stories how they were saved by German physicians, in most instances from typhus. In almost all larger Russian cities there were German physicians, and this was a blessing to many of the prisoners. Holzhausen gives the names of several of the sick and the names of the physicians who spared no pains in attending to the sufferers.

In the course of time and with the change of circumstances the lot of the prisoners in general was ameliorated, and in many instances their life became comfortable. Many found employment as farm hands or at some trade, as teachers of languages, but the principal occupation at which they succeeded was the practice of medicine. Whether they were competent physicians or only dilettantes they all gained the confidence of the Russian peasantry. In a land in which physicians are scarce the followers of Aesculap are highly appreciated.

When a Russian peasant had overloaded his stomach and some harmless mixture or decoction given him by some of the pseudo physicians had had a good effect - post hoc ergo propter hoc - the medicine man who had come from far away was highly praised and highly recommended.

Lieutenant Furtenbach treated with so-called sympathetic remedies and had a success which surprised nobody more than himself.

Real physicians were appreciated by the educated and influential Russians and secured a more lucrative practice within weeks than they had been able to secure after years at home. Dr. Roos, of whom I have already spoken, having been taken prisoner near the Beresina, became physician to the hospitals of Borisow and Schitzkow and soon had the greatest private practice of any physician in the vicinity; he afterward was called to the large hospitals in St. Petersburg, and was awarded highest honors by the Russian government.

More remarkable was the career of Adjutant Braun which has been told by his friend, Lieutenant Peppler, who acted as his assistant.

Braun had studied medicine for a while, but exchanged sound and lancet for the musket. As prisoner of war, at the urgent request of his friend Peppler, he utilized his unfinished studies. Venaesection was very popular in Russia, he secured a lancet, a German tailor made rollers for him, and soon he shed much Russian blood. The greatest triumph, however, of the two Aesculapians was Braun's successful operation for cataract which he performed on a police officer, his instrument being a rusty needle. The description of the operating scene during which the assistant Peppler trembled from excitement is highly dramatic. Braun became the favorite of the populace and everybody regretted that he left when he was free.