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November 8 1812: Winter Continues Attack



On November 8, 1812, the snow storm continues to decimate the Grand Army as it makes its way to Smolensk. Armand de Caulaincourt writes:
On the eighth, headquarters were at Beredikino. For a moment the Emperor thought of pushing forward as far as Smolensk himself; but the surface of the snow had been first melted in the thaw and then frozen when the frost set in again, and this made the road impracticable, particularly in the dark. The fear that by leaving he might draw swarms of stragglers after him, and so cause disorder in the night at Smolensk, made the Emperor decide to wait till the following day; and in this he was well-advised, for even those on foot were hard put to it to hold the road. 
Nearly everybody travelled on foot. The Emperor followed the march of the Guard in his carriage, accompanied by the Prince of Neuchatel; but he got down two or three times a day and went on foot for a while, leaning sometimes on the Prince's arm, sometimes on mine, sometimes on one of his aides-decamp. The road and the strips beside it were covered with the bodies of wounded men who had died of cold and hunger and want. No field of battle ever bore so fearful an aspect. 


Notes

Armand de Caulaincourt, At Napoleon's Side in Russia (Enigma Books, 2008) at pages 176-177.


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