October 31 1812: Napoleon at Viasma

On October 31, 1812, Napoleon makes his headquarters at Viasma. Caulaincourt describes the scene:

On the following day, the thirty-first, the headquarters and the Guard were stationed at Viasma, where we stayed through the first of November. The Emperor did not even make a guess at Kutusof's march, and Kutusof left us very quiet. The weather was fine. The Emperor repeated more than once that the Russian autumn was like the autumns of Fontainebleau; and judging what the weather would be like in ten days' or a fortnight's time by what it was on that particular day, he said to the Prince of Neuchatel that this was just the weather one had at Fontainebleau around St. Hubert's day, and that the stories people told about the Russian winter would only scare children.
Despite the bravado,  Napoleon  is now wearing a fur trimmed bonnet and not his usual Swiss-style civilian hat. 

At the same time, parts of the Grande Armée, commanded by Marshal Victor are engaging the Russian army under General Wittgenstein at Czasniki. French forces fail to block the Russian army and are forced to retreat east. Victor's new position is now close to Napoleon's intended line of withdrawal. Wittgenstein  is now within range to attack Napoleon's main force.  


Armand de Caulaincourt, At Napoleon's Side in Russia (Enigma Books, 2008), pgs 167-168.
Paul Britten Austin, 1812 The Great Retreat told by the Survivors, (Stackpole Books, Pennsylvania  1996, page 61 
The drawing can be found here.

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