On June 28, 1812, John Quincy Adams, the American Ambassador to Russia in St. Petersburg, receives a visit from Mr. Rayneval, the Secretary of the French Embassy, advising him that hostilities with France have begun. Adams writes, in part, in his diary:
28th. Mr. Rayneval, the Secretary of the French Embassy, called upon me this morning to take leave. He goes this night as a courier, with his wife, and is not unconcerned as to the safety of his passage out of the country. He told me that a courier had arrived last night from Wilna in forty-seven hours, with the news that hostilities had commenced — that the French had crossed the Niemen or Memel River at Kovno, which we found upon the great Russian map. On their passage the Russian troops there had retired. The two Empresses, it was expected, he said, would return to the city this evening, and would reside here. It was said to be customary in time of war — or at least in wars "un peu interessantes." They have not been more than a week or ten days in the country. I received the letter from Mr. Russell brought by Mr. Proud. The French Ambassador paid us a visit in the evening. He is yet waiting for his passports from Wilna. He thinks the passage of the river at Kovno a very formidable manoeuvre, and says that it cuts off four divisions from the Russian line. 'Now' he says, " they are quite astonished at it here, because they expected to be attacked on the side of Grodno ; and now they begin to be sorry that passports were refused him for going to Wilna."