November 20 1812: Ney's Return

On November 20, 1812, Marshall Ney, with some  thousand survivors of his army corps,  finally reaches  Prince Eugène's corps, outside of Orsha, two leagues from Napoleon's headquarters. Ney's men hear "Qui vive? to which they shout, "France!" [1] When Ney and Eugène meet, they fall into each other's arms. Soon the news is sent to Napoleon. Caulaincourt describes the effect of Ney's return:
Never has a victory in the field caused such a sensation. The joy was general; everyone was drunk with delight, and went running to and fro to spread the news; it was impossible to resist telling everyone you met. It was a national triumph,and you shared it even with your grooms. Officers, soldiers, everyone was convinced now that we could snap our fingers at Fortune and the elements alike—that Frenchmen were invincible! 
Philippe-Paul de Segur [3] writes that when Napoleon, heard that Ney had  reappeared, he leapt and exclaimed, "I have then saved my eagles! I would have given three hundred millions from my treasury, sooner than have lost such a man." Others claim [4], on seeing Ney, Napoleon says, "I'd have given everything not to lose you." 


1. Adam Zamoyski, Moscow 1812. Napoleon’s Fatal March, (New York 2004) at page 430. 
2.  Armand de Caulaincourt, At Napoleon's Side in Russia (Enigma Books, 2008), pgs 167-168.
3.  Defeat: Napoleon's Russian Campaign (New York Review Books Classics) by Philippe-Paul de Segur (Author), J. David Townsend (Translator), Rk Danner (Introduction). The account of De Segur above is from the Gutenberg translation is reproduced below because it available on line here. The original French can be found here.  
4. Paul Britten Austin, 1812 The Great Retreat told by the Survivors, (Stackpole Books, Pennsylvania  1996), page 204 

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