On August 27 1812, John Quincy Adams, the American Ambassador in St Petersburg writes the following entry in his diary:
27th. Nothing is published respecting the late battles at or near Smolensk, of which there are now said to have been four. The reports concerning them are exceedingly various. The letters from the officers assert the advantage to have been constantly on the Russian side, and wonder why the Commander-in-Chief, Barclay de Tolly, ordered the retreat. There is now an extraordinary clamor against that General. Prince Bagration is not in much better credit. General Koutouzof, who was made a Prince after the Turkish peace, last week was appointed Commander-in-Chief of all the active armies, and left the city last Saturday night to go and take the command. The want of a single head to the Russian military force is a great misfortune to the country.