June 26 1812: Napoleon at Kovno

On June 26, 1812, Tsar Alexander leaves Vilna. Russian troops are evacuated. The bridge over the river Vilia is destroyed. Military stores in the city are set on fire. Napoleon made his headquarters at an old Russian convent near Kovno. He stays the day to speed up the passage of men over the Neimen, and accelerate their movement in all directions. The Third Bulletin De La Grande Armée dated June 26, 1812 is published and is reproduced below.
Kovno, June 26, 1812

On the 23d of June, the King of Naples, who commands the cavalry, transferred his headquarters to within two leagues of the Niemen, upon its left bank. This Prince has under his immediate orders the corps of cavalry, commanded by Generals Counts Nansouty and Montbrun; the one, composed of the divisions under the command of Generals Counts Bruyeres, St. Germain, and Valence; the other, consisting of the divisions under the orders of General Baron Wattier, and Generals Counts Sebastiani and Defrance.

The Marshal Prince of Eckmuhl, commanding the first corps, moved his head-quarters to the skirts of the great forest of Pilwisky.

The second corps, and the Imperial Guards, followed the line of march of the first corps.

The third corps took the direction of Marienpol; the Viceroy, with the fourth and sixth corps, which remaind in the rear, marched upon Kalwarry.

The King of Westphalia proceeded to Novogorod, with the fifth, seventh, and eighth corps.

The first Austrian corps, commanded by the Prince of Schwartzenburg, quitted Lemberg and made a movement on its left, and drew near to Lublin.

The pontoon train, under the orders of General Eble, arrived on the 23d, within two leagues 
of theNiemen.

On the 23d, at two in the morning, the Emperor arrived at the advanced posts near Kowna, took a Polish cloak and cap from one of the light cavalry, and inspected the banks of the Niemen, accompanied by General Haxo, of the engineers, alone.

At eight in the evening, the army was again in motion. At ten, Count Morand, General of Division, passed over three companies of voltigeurs, and at the same time three bridges were thrown across the Niemen. At eleven, three columns debouched over the three bridges. At a quarter past one, day began to appear. At noon, General Baron Pajol drove before him a cloud of Cossacks, and took possession of Kowna, with a single battalion.

On the 24th, the Emperor proceeded to Kowna.

Marshal the Prince of Eckmuhl pushed forward his head-quarters to Roumchicki, and the King of Naples to Eketanoui.

During the whole of the 24th and 25th, the army was defiling by the bridges. In the evening of the 24th, the Emperor caused a new bridge to be thrown over the Vilia opposite Kowna, and directed Marshal the Duke of Reggio to pass it with the second corps. The Polish light-horse of the Guards crossed the river by swimming. Two men were drowning, when they were picked up by two swimmers of the 26th light infantry. Colonel Gueheneue having imprudently exposed himself to afford them assistance, had nearly fallen a sacrifice himself: a swimmer of his regiment saved him.

On the 25th, the Duke of Elchingen pushed on to Kormelon: the King of Naples advanced to Jigmoroui. The enemy's light troops were driven in, and pursued on every side.

On the 26th, Marshal the Duke of Elchingen arrived at Skoroule. The light divisions of • cavalry covered the whole plain to within ten leagues of Wilna.

Marshal the Duke of Tarentum, who commands the 10th corps, composed in part of the Prussians, passed the Niemen on the 2 tth, at Tilsit, and moved upon Rossiena, in order to clear the right bank of that river, and to protect the navigation.

Marshal the Duke of Belluno, commanding the ninth corps, and having under his orders the divisions Heudelet, Le-Grange, Durutte, and Partonneaux, occupies the country between the Elbe and the Oder.

The General of Division Count Rapp, Governor of Dantzic, has under his orders the division Daendels. 

The General of Division, Count Hogendorp, is Governor of Koningsberg.

The Emperor of Russia is at Wilna with his guards, and one part of his army occupying 
Ronikontoni and Novtroki.

The Russian General Baggavout, commanding the second corps, and a part of the Russian army, having been cut off from Wilna, had no other means of safety than by proceeding towards the Dwina.

The Niemen is navigable for vessels of two or three hundred tons, as far as Kowna. The communications by water are also secured as far as Dantzic, and with the Vistula, the Oder, and the Elbe. An immense supply of brandy, flour, and biscuit, is passing from Dantzic and Koningsberg towards Kowna. The Vilia, which flows by Wilna, is navigable for very small boats from Kowna to Wilna. Wilna, the capital of Luthania, is also the chief town of all Polish Russia. The Emperor of Russia has been for several months in this city with a part of his Court. The possession of this place will be the first fruit of victory. Several Cossack officers, and officers charged with dispatches, have been captured by the light cavalry.

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