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Oct 25 1812: War News


On October 25, 1812, in St Petersburg, John Quincy Adams writes the following diary entry
25th. Received a notification, from the Grand Master of the Ceremonies, of a Court to be held to-morrow at the Winter Palace, at noon, it being the Empress-mother's birthday, and at the same time a Te Deum for the victory of the General of Cavalry, Count Wittgenstein, over the French commanded by Marshal Gouvion St.-Cyr, and for the taking by storm of the fortified city of Polotzk. I had visits from Mr. Montreal and from Mr. Laval, who has postponed his departure for five or six days longer. He is not quite so sanguine as Lowenhielm that the French army will inevitably be destroyed, but he thinks the present prospects of the Russian cause superb. He still dreads the genius and resources of Napoleon more than they deserve.The accounts are so numerous and so uniform that his army is famishing, that he has proposed to Koutouzof, by Count Lauriston, an armistice, that his retreat through Smolensk is impossible, that they are no longer mere rumors. Koutouzof has received a reinforcement of twenty-four regiments, eighteen thousand men—Don Cossacks. The Novogorod armament, eighty thousand men, are rapidly advancing to Moscow from this side. Many of Napoleon's couriers, and mails with letters, have been intercepted; all complaining that they are in want of everything—one from the Bavarian General to the King of Bavaria, in which he complains that the allies are not allowed to forage, and that they are starved that the French soldiers may be fed. Koutouzof has reorganized the army and filled up the vacancies in the regiments from the Moscow armament. The answer to the proposal for an armistice was a mere reference to the Emperor Alexander's declaration at Wilna that he would not make peace while an armed enemy should remain on the Russian territory. Such is the change from despondency to confidence effected by the storm of Polotzk.

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