All the corps marched to Smolensk where they expected to reach the end of all their misery and to find repose, food, shelter; in fact, all they were longing for.

Napoleon entered the city with his guards and kept the rest of the army, including the stragglers, out of doors until arrangements could have been made for the regular distribution of rations and quarters. But together with the stragglers the mass of the army became unmanageable and resorted to violence.

Seeing that the guards were given the preference they broke out in revolt, entered by force and pillaged the magazines. "The magazines are pillaged!" was the general cry of terror and despair. Every one was running to grasp something to eat.

Finally, something like order was established to save some of the provisions for the corps of Prince Eugene and Marshal Ney who arrived after fighting constantly to protect the city from the troops of the enemy. They received in their turn eatables and a little rest, not under shelter but in the streets, where they were protected, not from the frost, but from the enemy.

There were no longer any illusions. The army having hoped to find shelter and protection, subsistence, clothes and, above all, shoes, at Smolensk, they found nothing of all this and learned that they had to leave, perhaps the next day, to recommence the interminable march without abode for the night, without bread to eat and constantly righting while exhausted, with the cruel certainty that if wounded they would be the prey of wolves and vultures.

This prospect made them all desperate; they saw the abyss, and still the worst was yet in store for them: Beresina and Wilna!

Napoleon left Smolensk on November 14th. The cold had become more intense - 21 deg. Reaumur (16 deg. below zero Fahrenheit) - this is the observation of Larrey who had a thermometer attached to his coat; he was the only one who kept a record of the temperature.

The cold killed a great many, and the road became covered with dead soldiers resting under the snow.

To the eternal honor of the most glorious of all armies be it said that it was only at the time when the misery had surpassed all boundaries, when the soldiers had to camp on the icy ground with an empty stomach, their limbs paralyzed in mortal rigor, that the dissolution began.

It was even after the heroic battle of Wiasma that they fought day for day.

It was not the cold which caused the proud army to disband, but hunger.

Provisions could nowhere be found; all horses perished, and with them the possibility of transporting food and ammunition.

And it is one thing to suffer cold and hunger, traveling under ordinary circumstances, and another to suffer thus and at the same time being followed by the enemy.


In order to understand the disaster of the Beresina it is necessary to cast a glance at the condition of Napoleon's army at that time.

After the battle at Krasnoe, Napoleon at Orscha, on November 19th., happy to have found a place of safety at last, with well furnished magazines, made a new attempt to rally the army by means of a regular distribution of rations. A detachment of excellent gendarmes had come from France and was employed to do police duty, to engage everybody, either by persuasion or by force, to join his corps. These brave men, accustomed to suppress disorder in the rear of the army, had never witnessed anything like the condition with which they were obliged to deal at this time. They were dismayed. All their efforts were in vain. Threats, promises of rations if the soldiers would fall in line, were of no avail whatever. The men, whether armed or not, thought it more convenient, above all more safe, to care for themselves instead of again taking up the yoke of honor, thereby taking the risk of being killed, or wounded, - which amounted to the same thing - they would not think of sacrificing their individual self for the sake of the whole. Some of the disbanded soldiers had retained their arms, but only to defend themselves against the Cossacks and to be better able to maraud. They lived from pillaging, taking advantage of the escort of the army, without rendering any service. In order to warm themselves they would put fire to houses occupied by wounded soldiers, many of whom perished in the flames in consequence. They had become real ferocious beasts. Among these marauders were only very few old soldiers, for most of the veterans remained with the flag until death.

Napoleon addressed the guards, appealing to their sense of duty, saying that they were the last to uphold military honor, that they, above all, had to set the example to save the remainder of the army which was in danger of complete dissolution; that if they, the guards, would become guilty, they would be more guilty than any of the other corps, because they had no excuse to complain of neglect, for what few supplies had been at the disposal of the army, their wants had always been considered ahead of the rest of the army, that he could resort to punishments, could have shot the first of the old grenadiers who would leave the ranks, but that he preferred to rely on their virtue as warriors to assure their devotedness. The grenadiers expressed their assent and gave promises of good conduct. All surviving old grenadiers remained in the ranks, not one of them had disbanded. Of the 6 thousand who had crossed the Niemen, about 3,500 survived, the others had succumbed to fatigue or frost, very few had fallen in battle.

The disbanded soldiers of the rest of the army, having in view another long march, with great sufferings to endure, were not disposed to change their ways. They now needed a long rest, safety, and abundance, to make them recognize military discipline again. The order to distribute rations among those who had rallied around the flag could not be kept up for more than a few hours. The magazines were pillaged, as they had been pillaged at Smolensk. The forty-eight hours' stay at Orscha was utilized for rest and to nourish a few men and the horses.

In these days Napoleon was as indefatigable as he ever had been as young Bonaparte. His proclamation of the 19th. did not remain quite unheeded even among the disbanded, but, on the march again, the nearer they came to the Beresina the more pronounced became the lack of discipline. In the following description I avail myself of the classical work of Thiers' "Histoire du Consulat et de I'Empire."

The only bridge over the Beresina, at Borisow, had been burned by the Russians. It was as by miracle that General Corbineau met a Polish peasant who indicated a place - near the village Studianka - where the Beresina could be forded by horses. Napoleon, informed of this fact on November 28th., at once ordered General Eble to construct the bridge and on November 25th., at 1 o'clock in the morning, he issued orders to Oudinot to have his corps ready for crossing the river. The moment had arrived when the great engineer, the venerable General Eble, was to crown his career by an immortal service.

He had saved six cases containing tools, nails, clamps, and all kinds of iron pieces needed for the construction of trestle bridges. In his profound foresight he had also taken along two wagon-loads of charcoal, and he had under his command 400 excellent pontooneers upon whom he could reply absolutely.

General Eble has been described as the model of an officer, on account of his imposing figure and his character.

Eble and Larrey were the two men whom the whole army never ceased to respect and to obey, even when they demanded things which were almost impossible. General Eble then with his 400 men departed in the evening of November 24th. for Borisow, followed by the clever General Chasseloup who had some sappers with him, but without their tools. General Chasseloup was a worthy associate of the illustrious chief of the pontooneers. They marched all night, arriving at Borisow on the 25th., at 5 o'clock in the morning. There they left some soldiers in order to deceive the Russians by making them believe that the bridge was to be constructed below Borisow. Eble with his pontooneers, however, marched through swamps and woods along the river as far as Studianka, arriving there during the afternoon of the 25th. Napoleon in his impatience wanted the bridges finished on that day, an absolute impossibility; it could not be done until the 26th., by working all night, and not to rest until this was accomplished was the firm resolution of these men who by that time had marched two days and two nights. General Eble spoke to his pontooneers, telling them that the fate of the army was in their hands. He inspired them with noble sentiments and received the promise of the most absolute devotedness. They had to work in the bitter cold weather - severe frost having suddenly set in - all night and during the next day, in the water, in the midst of floating ice, probably under fire of the enemy, without rest, almost without time to swallow some boiled meat; they had not even bread or salt or brandy. This was the price at which the army could be saved. Each and every one of the pontooneers pledged himself to their general, and we shall see how they kept their word.

Not having time to fell trees and to cut them into planks, they demolished the houses of the unfortunate village Studianka and took all the wood which could serve for the construction of bridges; they forged the iron needed to fasten the planks and in this way they made the trestles. At daybreak of the 26th. they plunged these trestles into the Beresina. Napoleon, together with some of his generals, Murat, Berthier, Eugene, Caulaincourt, Duroc, and others, had hastened to Studianka on this morning to witness the progress of Eble's work. Their faces expressed the greatest anxiety, for at this moment the question was whether or not the master of the world would be taken prisoner by the Russians. He watched the men working, exerting all their might in strength and intelligence. But it was by no means sufficient to plunge bravely into the icy water and to fasten the trestles, the almost superhuman work had to be accomplished in spite of the enemy whose outposts were visible on the other side of the river. Were there merely some Cossacks, or was there a whole army corps? This was an important question to solve. One of the officers, Jacqueminot, who was as brave as he was intelligent, rode into the water, traversed the Beresina, the horse swimming part of the way, and reached the other shore. On account of the ice the landing was very difficult. In a little wood he found some Cossacks, but altogether only very few enemies could be seen. Jacqueminot then turned back to bring the good news to the emperor. As it was of the greatest importance to secure a prisoner to obtain exact information about what was to be feared or to be hoped, the brave Jacqueminot once more crossed the Beresina, this time accompanied by some determined cavalry men. They overpowered a Russian outpost, the men sitting around a fire, took a corporal with them, and brought this prisoner before Napoleon who learned to his great satisfaction that Tchitchakoff with his main force was before Borisow to prevent the passage of the French, and that at Studianka there was only a small detachment of light troops.

It was necessary to take advantage of these fortunate circumstances. But the bridges were not ready. The brave General Corbineau with his cavalry brigade crossed the river under the above-described difficulties, and established himself in the woods. Napoleon mounted a battery of 40 cannons on the left shore, and now the French could flatter themselves to be masters of the right shore while the bridges were made, and that their whole army would be able to cross. Napoleon's star seemed to brighten again, the officers grouped around him, saluting with expressions of joy, such as they had not shown for a long time.

All was now depending on the completion of the bridges, for there were two to be constructed, each 600 feet in length; one on the left for wagons, the other, on the right, for infantry and cavalry. A hundred pontooneers had gone into the water and with the aid of little floats built for this purpose, had commenced the fixation of the trestles. The water was freezing and formed ice crusts around their shoulders, arms, and legs, ice crusts which adhered to the flesh and caused great pain. They suffered without complaining, without appearing to be affected, so great was their ardor. The river at that point was 300 feet wide and with 23 trestles for each bridge the two shores could be united. In order to transport first the troops, all efforts were concentrated on the construction of the bridge to the right - that is, the one for infantry and cavalry - and at 1 o'clock in the afternoon it was ready.

About 9 thousand men of the corps of Marshal Oudinot passed over the first bridge and under great precautions took two cannons along. Arrived on the other side, Oudinot faced some troops of infantry which General Tschaplitz, the commander of the advance guard of Tchitchakoff, had brought there. The engagement was very lively but of short duration. The French killed 200 men of the enemy and were able to establish themselves in a good position, from where they could cover the passage. Time was given now for the passage of enough troops to meet Tchitchakoff, during the rest of the day, the 26th. and the succeeding night. Concerning many details I have to refer to Thiers' description.

At 4 o'clock in the afternoon the second bridge was completed. Napoleon, on the Studianka side, yet supervised everything; he wanted to remain among the last to cross the bridge. General Eble, without himself taking a moment of rest, had one-half the number of his pontooneers rest on straw while the other half took up the painful task of guarding the bridges, of doing police duty, and of making repairs in case of accidents, until they were relieved by the others. On this day the infantry guards and what remained of cavalry guards marched over the bridge, followed by the artillery train.

Unfortunately, the left bridge, intended for vehicles, shook too much under the enormous weight of wagons following one another without interruption. Pressed as they were, the pontooneers had not had time to shape the timber forming the path, they had to use wood as they found it, and in order to deaden the rumbling of the wagons they had put moss, hemp, straw - in fact, everything they could gather in Studianka - into the crevices. But the horses removed this kind of litter with their feet, rendering the surface of the path very rough, so that it had formed undulations, and at 8 o'clock in the evening three trestles gave way and fell, together with the wagons which they carried, into the Beresina. The heroic pontooneers went to work again, going into the water which was so cold that ice immediately formed anew where it had been broken. With their axes they had to cut holes into the ice to place new trestles six, seven and even eight feet deep into the river were the bridge had given way. At 11 o'clock the bridge was secure again.

General Eble, who had always one relief at work while the other was asleep, took no rest himself. He had extra trestles made in case of another accident. At 2 o'clock in the morning three trestles of the left bridge, that is the one for the vehicles, gave way, unfortunately in the middle of the current, where the water had a depth of seven or eight feet. This time the pontooneers had to accomplish their difficult task in the darkness. The men, shaking from cold and starving, could not work any more. The venerable General Eble, who was not young as they were and had not taken rest as they had, suffered more than they did, but he had the moral superiority and spoke to them, appealing to their devotedness, told them of the certain disaster which would annihilate the whole army if they did not repair the bridges; and his address made a deep impression. With supreme self-denial they went to work again. General Lauriston, who had been sent by the emperor to learn the cause of the new accident, pressed Eble's hand and, shedding tears, said to him: For God's sake, hasten! Without showing impatience, Eble, who generally had the roughness of a strong and proud soul, answered with kindness: You see what we are doing, and he turned to his men to encourage, to direct them, and notwithstanding his age - he was 54 years old - he plunged into that icy water, which those young men were hardly able to endure (and this fact is stated by all the historians whose works I have read). At 6 o'clock in the morning (November 27th.) this second accident had been repaired, the artillery train could pass again.

The bridge to the right - for infantry - did not have to endure the same kind of shaking up as the other bridge, and did not for one moment get out of order. If the stragglers and fugitives had obeyed all could have crossed during the night from November 26th. to November 27th. But the attraction of some barns, some straw to lie on, some eatables found at Studianka, had retained a good many on this side of the river. The swamps surrounding the Beresina were frozen, which was a great advantage, enabling the people to walk over them. On these frozen swamps had been lighted thousands of fires, and 10 thousand or 15 thousand individuals had established themselves around them and did not want to leave. Soon they should bitterly regret the loss of a precious opportunity.

In the morning, on November 27th., Napoleon crossed the Beresina, together with all who were attached to his headquarters, and selected for his new headquarters the little village Zawnicky, on the other side of the Beresina. In front of him was the corps of Oudinot. All day long he was on horseback personally to hasten the passage of detachments of the army, somewhat over 5 thousand men under arms. Toward the end of the day the first corps arrived, under Davout, who since Krasnoe had again commanded the rear guard. This was the only corps which still had some military appearance.

The day of November 27th. was occupied to cross the Beresina and to prepare for a desperate resistance, for the Russians could no longer be deceived as to the location of the bridges. At 2 o'clock in the afternoon a third accident happened, again on the bridge to the left. It was soon repaired, but the vehicles arrived in great numbers, and all were pressing forward in such a way that the gendarmes had extraordinary difficulties to enforce some order.

The 9th. corps, that of Marshal Victor, had taken a position between Borisow and Studianka, in order to protect the army at the latter place. It had been foreseen that the crossing would be little interfered with during the first two days, the 26th. and 27th., because Tchitchakoff was as yet ignorant of the real points elected for the bridges, expecting to find the French army below Borisow on the other side of the Beresina. Wittgenstein and Kutusoff had not yet had time to unite and did not sufficiently press the French.

Napoleon had good reasons to expect that the 28th. would be the decisive day. He was resolved to save the army or to perish with it. Taking the greatest pains to deceive Tchitchakoff as long as possible he ordered Marchal Victor to leave the division Partouneaux, which had been reduced by marches and fights from 12 thousand to 4 thousand combatants, at Borisow. Victor with 9 thousand men and 700 to 800 horses was to cover Studianka.

These 9 thousand were the survivors of 24 thousand with whom Victor had left Smolensk to join Oudinot on the Oula. During one month's marching and in various engagements 10 thousand to 11 thousand had been lost. The bearing, however, of those who survived was excellent, and seeing what was left of the grand army, the glory of which had, not long ago, been the object of their jealousy, in its present condition, they were stricken with pity and asked their oppressed comrades who had almost lost their pride as a result of the misery, what calamity could have befallen them? You will soon be the same as we are, sadly answered the victors of Smolensk and Borodino.

The hour of the supreme crisis had come. The enemy, having now learned the truth, came to attack the French when many of them had not yet crossed the Beresina and were divided between the two sides of the river. Wittgenstein, who with 3 thousand men had followed the corps of Victor, was behind the latter between Borisow and Studianka, and ready with all his might to throw Victor into the Beresina. Altogether, including the forces of Tchitchakoff, there were about 72 thousand Russians, without counting 30 thousand men of Kutusoff in the rear, ready to fall on Victor's 12 thousand to 13 thousand and Oudinot's 7 thousand or 8 thousand of the guards; 28 thousand to 30 thousand French were divided between the two shores of the Beresina hampered by 40 thousand stragglers, to fight, during the difficult operation of crossing the Beresina, with 72 thousand partly in front, partly in the rear.

This terrible struggle began in the evening of the 27th. The unfortunate French division of Partouneaux, the best of the three of Victor's corps, had received orders from Napoleon to remain before Borisow during the 27th., in order to deceive, as long as possible, and to detain Tchitchakoff. In this position Partouneaux was separated from his corps which, as we have seen, was concentrated around Studianka, by three miles of wood and swamps. As could be easily foreseen, Partouneaux was cut off by the arrival of the troops of Platow, Miloradovitch, and Yermaloff, who had followed the French on the road from Orscha to Borisow. In the evening of the 27th. Partouneaux recognized his desperate position. With the immense dangers threatening him were combined the hideous embarrassment of several thousand stragglers who, believing in the passage below Borisow, had massed at that point, with their baggage, awaiting the construction of the bridge. The better to deceive the enemy they had been left in their error, and now they were destined to be sacrificed, together with the division of Partouneaux, on account of the terrible necessity to deceive Tchitchakoff.

When the bullets came from all sides, the confusion soon reached the climax; the three little brigades of Partouneaux forming for defense found themselves entangled with several thousand stragglers and fugitives who clamorously threw themselves into their ranks; the women of the mass, with baggage, especially with their frightful, piercing cries, characterized this scene of desolation. General Partouneaux decided to extricate himself, to open a way or to perish. He was with a thousand men against 40 thousand. Several challenges to surrender he refused, and kept on fighting. The enemy, likewise exhausted, suspended firing toward midnight, being certain to take the last of this handful of braves who resisted so heroically in the morning. With daybreak the Russian generals again challenged General Partouneaux, who was standing upright in the snow with the 400 or 500 of his brigade, remonstrating with him, and he, with desperation in his soul, surrendered. The other two brigades of his division that had been separated from him also laid down their arms. The Russians took about 2 thousand prisoners, that is, the survivors of Partouneaux's division of 4 thousand, only one battalion of 300 men had succeeded, during the darkness of the night, in making its escape and reaching Studianka.

The army at Studianka had heard, during this cruel night, the sound of the cannonade and fusillade from the direction of Borisow. Napoleon and Victor were in great anxiety; the latter thought that the measure taken, i.e., the sacrifice of his best division, of 4 thousand men who would have been of great value, had been unjustifiable, because after the crossing had begun on the 26th. it was no longer possible to deceive the enemy.

The night was passed in cruel suspense, but being the prey of sorrows of so many kinds the French could hardly pay due attention to the many new ones which presented themselves at every moment. The silence which reigned on the morning of the 28th. indicated the catastrophe of the division Partouneaux.

The firing now began on the two sides of the Beresina, on the right shore against the troops that had crossed, on the left against those covering the passage of the rear of the army. From this moment on nothing was thought of but fight. The cannonade and fusillade soon became extremely violent, and Napoleon, on horseback, incessantly riding from one point to another, assumed that Oudinot resisted Tchitchakoff while Eble continued to care for the bridges, and that Victor, who was fighting Wittgenstein, was not thrown into the icy floods of the Beresina together with the masses which had not yet crossed.

Although the firing was terrible on all sides and thousands were killed on this lugubrious field; the French resisted on both banks of the river.

For the description of this battle I desire to refer to Thiers' great work. Taking all circumstances into consideration, it did the greatest honor to Napoleon's guns, to the valor of his generals and of his soldiers.

The confusion was frightful among the masses that had neglected to cross in time, and those who had arrived too late for the opportunity. Many, ignoring that the first bridge was reserved for pedestrians and horsemen, the second for wagons, crowded with delirious impatience upon the second bridge. The pontooneers on guard at the entrance of the bridge to the right were ordering the vehicles to the one on the left, which was 600 feet farther down. This precaution was an absolute necessity, because the bridge to the right could not endure the weight of the wagons. Those who were directed by the pontooneers to go to the other bridge had the greatest difficulty to pass through the compact masses pressing and pushing to enter the structure. A terrible struggle! Opposing currents of people paralyzed all progress. The bullets of the enemy, striking into this dense crowd, produced fearful furrows and cries of terror from the fugitives; women with children, many on wagons, added to the horror. All pressed, all pushed; the stronger ones trampled on those who had lost their foothold, and killed many of the latter. Men on horseback were crushed, together with their horses, many of the animals becoming unmanageable, shot forward, kicked, reared, turned into the crowd and gained a little space by throwing people down into the river; but soon the space filled up again, and the mass of people was as dense as before.

This pressing forward and backward, the cries, the bullets striking into the helpless crowd, presented an atrocious scene - the climax of that forever odious and senseless expedition of Napoleon.

The excellent General Eble, whose heart broke at this spectacle, tried in vain to establish a little order. Placing himself at the head of the bridge he addressed the multitude; but it was only by means of the bayonet that at last some improvement was brought about, and some women, children, and wounded were saved. Some historians have stated that the French themselves fired cannon shots into the crowd, but this is not mentioned by Thiers. This panic was the cause that more than half the number of those perished who otherwise could have crossed. Many threw themselves, or were pushed, into the water and drowned. And this terrible conflict among the masses having lasted all day, far from diminishing, it became more horrible with the progress of the battle between Victor and Wittgenstein. The description of this battle I omit, referring again to Thiers, confining myself to give some figures. Of 700 to 800 men of General Fournier's cavalry hardly 300 survived; of Marshal Victor's infantry, hardy 5 thousand. Of all these brave men, mostly Dutchmen, Germans, and Polanders, who had been sacrificed there was quite a number of wounded who might have been saved, but who had perished for want of all means of transportation. The Russians lost 10 thousand to 11 thousand.

This double battle on the two shores of the Beresina is one of the most glorious in the history of France; 28 thousand against 72 thousand Russians. These 28 thousand could have been taken or annihilated to the last man, and it was almost a miracle that even a part of the army escaped this disaster.

With nightfall some calm came over this place of carnage and confusion.

On the next morning Napoleon had to recommence, this time not to retreat, but to flee; he had to wrest from the enemy the 5 thousand men of Marshal Victor's corps, Victor's artillery and as many as possible of those unfortunates who had not employed the two days by crossing. Napoleon ordered Marshal Victor to cross during the night with his corps and with all his artillery, and to take with him as many as possible of the disbanded and of the refugees who were still on that other side of the river.

Here we now learn of a singular flux and reflux of the frightened masses. While the cannon had roared, every one wanted to cross but could not, now when with nightfall the firing had ceased they did not think any more of the danger of hesitation, not of the cruel lesson which they had learned during the day. They only wanted to keep away from the scene of horror which the crossing of the bridge had presented. It was a great task to force these unfortunates to cross the bridges before they were set on fire, a measure which was an absolute necessity and which was to be executed on the next morning.

The first work for Eble's pontooneers was now to clear the avenues of the bridges from the mass of the dead, men and horses, of demolished wagons, and of all sorts of impediments. This task could be accomplished only in part; the mass of cadavers was too great for the time given for the removal of all of them, and those who crossed had to walk over flesh and blood.

In the night, from 9 o'clock to midnight, Marshal Victor crossed the Beresina, thereby exposing himself to the enemy, who, however, was too tired to think of fighting. He brought his artillery over the left bridge, his infantry over the right one, and with the exception of the wounded and two pieces of artillery, all his men and all his material safely reached the other side. The crossing accomplished, he erected a battery to hold the Russians in check and to prevent them from crossing the bridges.

There remained several thousand stragglers and fugitives on this side of the Beresina who could have crossed during the night but had refused to do so. Napoleon had given orders to destroy the bridges at daybreak and had sent word to General Eble and Marshal Victor to employ all means in order to hasten the passage of those unfortunates. General Eble, accompanied by some officers, himself went to their bivouacs and implored them to flee, emphasizing that he was going to destroy the bridges. But it was in vain; lying comfortably on straw or branches around great fires, devouring horse meat, they were afraid of the crowding on the bridge during the night, they hesitated to give up a sure bivouac for an uncertain one, they feared that the frost, which was very severe, would kill them in their enfeebled condition.

Napoleon's orders to General Eble was to destroy the bridges at 7 o'clock in the morning of November 29th., but this noble man, as humane as he was brave, hesitated. He had been awake that night, the sixth of these vigils in succession, incessantly trying to accelerate the passing of the bridge; with daybreak, however, there was no need any more to stimulate the unfortunates, they all were only too anxious now. They all ran when the enemy became visible on the heights.

Eble had waited till 8 o'clock when the order for the destruction of the bridges was repeated to him, and in sight of the approaching enemy it was his duty not to lose one moment. However, trusting to the artillery of Victor, he still tried to save some people. His soul suffered cruelly during this time of hesitation to execute an order the necessity of which he knew only too well. Finally, having waited until almost 9 o'clock when the enemy approached on the double quick, he decided with broken heart, turning his eyes away from the frightful scene, to set fire to the structures. Those unfortunates who were on the bridges threw themselves into the water, every one made a supreme effort to escape the Cossacks or captivity, which latter they feared more than death.

The Cossacks came up galloping, thrusting their lances into the midst of the crowd; they killed some, gathered the others, and drove them forward, like a herd of sheep, toward the Russian army. It is not exactly known if there were 6 thousand, 7 thousand or 8 thousand individuals, men, women, and children, who were taken by the Cossacks.

The army was profoundly affected by this spectacle and nobody more so than General Eble who, in devoting himself to the salvation of all, could well say that he was the savior of all who had not perished or been taken prisoner in the days of the Beresina. Of the 50 thousand, armed or unarmed, who had crossed there was not a single one who did not owe his life and liberty to him and his pontooneers. But the 400 pontooneers who had worked in the water, paid with their lives for this noblest deed in the history of wars; they all died within a short time. General Eble survived his act of bravery only three weeks; he died in Koenigsberg on the 21st. day of December, 1812.

This is an incomplete sketch of the immortal event of the Beresina, full of psychological interest and therefore fit to be inserted in the medical history of Napoleon's campaign in Russia.

To a miraculous accident, the arrival of Corbineau, the noble devotedness of Eble, the desperate resistance of Victor and his soldiers, to the energy of Oudinot, Ney, Legrand, Maison, Zayonchek, Doumerc, and, finally, to his own sure and profound decision, his recognition of the true steps to be taken, Napoleon owed the possibility that he could escape after a bloody scene, the most humiliating, the most crushing disaster.