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November 25 1812: Adams on Napoleon's Disaster



On November 25, 1812, in St Petersburg, John Quincy Adams   makes the following  entry  in his diary: 
25th. This morning I received a notification from the Grand Master of the Ceremonies, Narishkin, that a Te Deum would be performed at the Cathedral Church at Kazan, at half-past eleven o'clock this forenoon, to return thanks for the defeat of the enemy's corps under the command of the Marshals Davoust and Ney. I went with Mr. Smith accordingly at this hour. It is the greatest victory that the Russians have gained since the war commenced, and is perfectly decisive of the fate of the campaign and of the Emperor Napoleon's main army. It is now morally impossible that the remnant of them should escape. In every probability they are at this hour all prisoners of war. He is lost without resource. The trophies, among which is Davoust's Marshal's truncheon, were exhibited in the church. Czernicheff, who has highly distinguished himself, was present, as were General Wintzingerode and his aid-de-camp, young Narishkin, the Grand Chamberlain's son, who were taken prisoners by a most extraordinary accident when Wintzingerode's corps took Moscow, and were retaken by another accident no less extraordinary, on their way as prisoners to France. A few Cossacks of Czernicheff's detachment released them. Czernicheff has been promoted to the rank of a Major-General, and Aide-de-Camp General to the Emperor, and appeared in his new uniform. Joy and triumph were upon every countenance; but upon none with such transport as upon that of Madame Narishkin, who went about with her son by the hand, presenting him to all her friends, and saying she had nothing more to ask of Heaven. The Emperor and imperial family performed their prostrations to the miraculous image of the Virgin, and the Emperor, on leaving the church, was greeted with loud shouts of the populace. Mr. Harris visited us at the close of the evening. There have been rumors of internal commotions at Paris in circulation some time. They were much exaggerated in the reports, but accounts from Sweden ascertain that they did take place even before the end of October, and before Napoleon's disaster had commenced. They were then suppressed; but they afford a presage of violent convulsions, when the real events of the last month shall be sufficiently known to produce their effects. The crisis is great and awful beyond all example. Almighty God, grant that it may turn to good! to peace! to the relief of mankind from the dreadful calamities of unbridled ambition!

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