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II. But reflect on the loss of LIFE BY WAR. The battle-field will by no means tell us the whole number of its victims. Cruel treatment, bad provisions, unhealthy encampinents, forced marches, frequent exposures to extremes of heat and cold without shelter, and fatal diseases generated by such causes, destroy vastly more than the sword. Often has a single march cut off more than half of an army. The hardships of war shorten from ten to twenty years the life of those who escape the sword, and thus occasion an immense loss that is never reckoned in the usual estimates of its havoc.
But how vast the multitude of its immediate victims! At Borodino there perished in one day 80,000; and in the siege of Mexico more than 100,000 in battle, and more than 50,000 from the infection of putrefying carcasses. The Moors of Spain lost in one engagement with Christians 70,000, and in another 180,000, besides 50,000 prisoners. In the battle of Chalons there fell 300,000 of Attila's army alone; in ancient times it was no very uncommon slaughter for one or two hundred thousand to be left dead on a single field; and the Old Testament records an instance where one side lost 500,000.* We shudder at the thought of Alexander's sacrificing three millions of lives; but his successors occasioned the destruction of twenty millions, the Saracens, sirty millions, and the crusades alone, forty millions of nominal CHRISTIANS !!
III. Glance, now, at some of the PERSONAL SUFFERINGS incident to war.
Think of the violence practised in procuring seamen and soldiers.
Where the war-spirit is predominant, they are forced into the army and navy at the pleasure of their rulers, and doomed to all the hardships, perils, and sufferings of war, with little or no hope of release till death. Do you know how soldiers are generally treated? They are subjected to the most iron-hearted despotism on earth, to a bondage far worse than that of a Turkish peasant, or a domestic slave. They are at the mercy of every superior, from the commander-in-chief down to the pettiest officer. They have little or no protection against hourly abuse, insult, and violence, nor any adequate security for life itself against the lawless passions of officers seldom called to account in war for the worst treatment of soldiers. Their punishment is still more barbarous. 'Sailors are subject,' says a well-known writer, 'not only to a torrent of imprecations and curses, but to the boatswain's
2 Chron. xiii. 3-17.
cat-o'-nine-tails. The least complaint brings them to the gangway; and sometimes a sailor is sentenced to receive five hundred, and even a thousand lashes, to be inflicted day after day, as he may be able to bear them. He is attended at each whipping by a surgeon, who determines how much can be inflicted at once without immediate danger to life! Often does the flagellation proceed till the victim saints; and then he is respited, to renew his sufferings another day. I have often shuddered at the recital of whippings through the fleet, the keel-hauling, the spread-eagle, the gagging, the hand-cuffing, and other punishments inflicted on sailors who have been trepanned or forced into a service from which death is the only release.' The punishment of soldiers is equally cruel and shocking with that of seamen; but we will not describe flogging, the gauntlope, the picket, the wooden-horse, and other forms of punishment, the very thought of which is enough to make one's blood boil with indignation, or curdle with horror.
One instance, however, we will select from our own land. In 1814, a soldier was shot at Greenbush, New York, for going thirty or forty miles from the camp, without leave, to visit his wife and three small children. After the usual preliminaries in such cases, his coffin, a box of rough pine boards, was borne before him on the shoulders of two men to the place of execution. He wore, as a winding-sheet, a white cotton gown, having over the place of his heart the black image of a heart, as a mark for the executioners to aim at.
His countenance was as pale as his winding-sheet, and his whole frame trembled with agony. His grave was dug, the coffin placed by its side, and the deserter, with a cap drawn over his eyes, required to kneel upon the lid. At this signal, the eight soldiers, drawn by lot for the bloody deed, stepped forward within two rods of their victim; and, at another signal from the officer, all fired at the same instant. The miserable man, with a horrid scream, leaped from the earth, and fell between his coffin and his grave. The sergeant, to insure immediate death, shot him through the head, holding his musket so near that the cap took fire; and there the body lay, with the head sending forth the mingled fumes of burning cotton and hair. The soldiers, after passing close by the corpse in a line to let every one see for himself the fate of a deserter, marched back to the merry notes of Yankee Doodle! and all the officers were immediately invited to the quarters of the commander, and treated with grog!!
Imagine the sufferings incident to marches. Trace the French army in the Russian campaign. On halting at night, the soldiers threw themselves down on the first dirty straw they could find, and there perished in large numbers with hunger and fatigue. From such sufferings, and from the infection of the air by putrefied carcasses of men and horses that strewed the roads, there sprang two dreadful epidemics, the dysentery and typhus fever. So fatal were these combined causes, that of 22,000 Bavarians, only 11,000 reached the Duna, though they had been in no action; and the flower of both the French and the allied armies perished. A division of the Russian army, amounting, at the commencement of the pursuit of the French, to 120,000 men, could not, on the frontier of the Duchy of Warsaw, muster 35,000; and a re-enforcement of 10,000, that had marched from Wilna, arrived with only 1500, of whom one half were the next day in the hospitals. Some battalions retained less than fifty men, and many companies were utterly annihilated !
The march of the French both to and from Moscow, was horrible beyond description. • Overwhelmed with whirlwinds of snow,' says Labaume, 'the soldiers could not distinguish the road from the ditches, and often fell into the latter, which served them for a tomb. Others, eager to press forward, dragged themselves along. Badly clothed and shod, haying nothing to eat or drink, groaning and shivering with the cold, they gave no assistance, and showed no signs of compassion to those who, sinking from weakness, expired around them. Many of these miserable creatures struggled hard in the agonies of death. Some, in the most affecting manner, bade adieu to their brethren in arms, and others with their last breath pronounced the name of their mother and their country.
Stretched on the road, we could only see the heaps of snow that covered them, and formed undulations in our route like those in a grave-yard. Flocks of ravens flew over our heads croaking ominously; and troops of dogs, which had followed us all the way from Moscow, and lived solely on our bloody remains, howled around us, as if impatient for the moment when we should become their prey, and often contended with the soldiers for the dead horses which were left on the road.'
* Every day furnished scenes too painful to relate. The road was covered with soldiers who no longer retained the human form. Some had lost their hearing, others their speech; and many, by excessive cold and hunger, were reduced to such a state of stupid frenzy, that they roasted the dead bodies for food, and even gnawed their own hands and arms. Some, too weak to lift a piece of wood, or roll a stone towards the fire, sat down upon their dead companions, and gazed with countenances unmoved upon the burning logs. These livid spectres, unable to get up, fell by the side of those on whom they had been seated. Many, in a state of delirium, plunged their bare feet into the fire to warm themselves; some, with convulsive laughter, threw themselves into the flames, and, with shocking cries, perished in most horrible contortions; others, in a state of equal madness, followed their example, and shared the same fate; 'while many were so maddened by the extremes of pain and hunger, that they tore the dead bodies of their comrades into pieces, and feasted on the remains.'
"The soldiers often fired in the morning the buildings in which they had lodged during the night; and on one occasion there were three large barns filled chiefly with wounded soldiers. From two of these they could not escape without passing through the one in front, which was on fire. The most active saved themselves by leaping out of the windows; but all those who were sick or crippled, not having strength to move, saw the flames advancing rapidly to devour them. Touched by their shrieks, some of the least hardened endeavored in vain to save them. We could see them half. buried under the burning rafters. Through whirlwinds of smoke, they entreated their comrades to shorten their sufferings by putting them to death; and from motives of humanity we thought it our duty to do so! But some still survived; and we heard them with feeble voices crying, “ Fire on us! fire on us! at the head! at the head! don't miss !"
The sufferings of the wounded left after battle on the open field, or crowded into hospitals, are shocking. Fifty days after the battle of Borodino, no less than 20,000 of the slain were found lying where they had fallen; and the whole plain was strewed with half-buried carcasses of men and horses, intermingled with garments dyed in blood, and with bones gnawed by dogs and vultures. were marching over the scene of the battle,' says Labaume,
we heard a piteous sound at a distance; and, on reaching the spot, we found a French soldier stretched on the
ground, with both his legs broken. “I was wounded," said he, “on the day of the great battle; and finding myself in a lonely place, where I could gain no assistance, I dragged myself with
my hands to the brink of a rivulet, and have lived nearly two months on grass and roots, and a few pieces of bread which I found among the dead bodies. At night I have lain in the carcasses of dead horses; and with the flesh of these animals I have dressed
wounds." Even a hospital is scarcely less terrible. An eminent surgeon, present in the hospitals after the battle of Waterloo, says, 'The wounded French continued to be brought in for several successive days; and the British soldiers, who had in the morning been moved by the piteous cries of those they carried, I saw in the evening so hardened by the repetition of the scene, and by fatigue, as to become indifferent to the sufferings they occasioned !'
• It was now the thirteenth day after the battle. It is impossible to conceive the sufferings of men rudely carried at such a period of their wounds. When I first entered the hospital, these Frenchmen had been roused and excited in an extraordinary degree, and in the glance of their eyes there was a character of fierceness which I never expected to witness in the human countenance. On the second day, the temporary excitement had subsided; and turn which way I would, I encountered every form of entreaty from those whose condition left no need of words to stir compassion : Surgeon Major, oh! how I suffer! Dress my wounds! do dress my wounds! -Doctor, I commend myself to you. Cut off my leg! Oh! I suffer too much! And when these entreaties were unavailing, you might hear, in a weak, inward tone of despair, I shall die! I am a dead man!'
In the hospitals of Wilna there were left more than 17,000 dead and dying, frozen and freezing. The bodies of the former were taken up to stop the cavities in the windows, floors, and walls, and in one corridor of the Great Convent, above 1500 were piled up transversely like pigs of lead or iron !!
An army after its capture is often doomed to every variety of suffering. A French army in Spain had no sooner grounded their arms, than multitudes were murdered in cold blood. Some were burnt alive, and all the survivors subjected to a series of such extreme privations and sufferings as thinned their ranks with fearful rapidity. Fa