Page images

and hollow. It is seldom even pos. and ministers, he endeavoured, if he sible for the confederating parties could not at once induce them to to form, as emergencies arise, a con. acquiesce in his plans, at least to cert of wills in time, and seldomer occupy, and distract their minds, still that they submit without re. and by an appearance of negotiation, serve to the will of one dictator. to sow the seeds of mutual discord The fragility of confederations had between the powers confederated, been proved by three coalitions or that might be inclined to con. against the ruler of France, and the federate against him. At the same issue of a fourth was now to be added time that he was busily employed to the number.

in forming the confederation of the Buonaparte, sensible of the dis. Rhine, that is, in the extension of advantages of being placed at so his own power, and preparing for grcat a distañce from France, as the the extension of his conquests, he countries between the Vistula and amused Russia and England with a the Niemen, was in the first place, negotiation for peace, which he pro. and above all things, attentive to the fessed to have always uppermost in means of conveyance, or what in the his mind and heart, but which he really French armies is called the Ambu. contemplated not as an end, but a lance. On the great roads between means: the means of renewing war the Rhine and the Vistula, hundreds with greater advantage. He laboured and thousands of carriages were by all means, to detach the king of every where to be scen, going or re- Sweden from the cause of his allies, turning from Thorn and Warsaw. by professions of goodwill, respect, Travellers inacquainted with the and admiration, and over by disa state of public affairs in Germany memberments in his favour, of Prus. and Poland, might have supposed sia and Denmark. He roused the that the continued motion on the Turks to war against Russia, and highways was occasioned by a entered into a negotiation for an flourishing internal commerce. From alliance offensive and defensive with the countries that lay at his mercy, the emperor of Persia. Ambassa. Buona parte drew provisions, and dors were seen in his camp from forage, and even additions to bis Ispahan and

Constantinople. military force, while, at the same Whether he really harboured "the time, one body of troops after extravagant design of sending a another continued to march for his French army through Persia to support from the frontier of France. Hindostan, or no, may reasonably

Buonaparte was also, in a very par. be doubted: but an embassy from ticular manner, attentive to the com. Persia to the emperor of France, missary department. The different had an imposing air of widely er. corps and divisions of his army were tended and formidable influence, sure to find bread, at least, in abun. and might have an effect in any fu. dance, and, as much as possible, ture negotiation for peace, on the every comfort required by a rigorous councils of Russia and England. climafe. Being intimately ae. On every occasion when a bap. quainted with the interests and views py stage-effect might be produced, of the courts of Europe, and the he was careful to produce it. Eighty. individual characters of favourites four pieces of cannon taken from the

B 9


Russian generals Kamenskoy, Ben. altogether incredible, and beyond nigsen, and Buxhoevden, in the bat. all doubt intended only for the tles of Czarnowo, Nasielsk, Pultusk, eyes or ears of the young conscri pts. and Golymin, were ranged before They were called to the field of the palace of the republic of War- glory, which was represented as saw. And that the effect which ihe dangerous only to their enemies. sight of so grand a triumph was Buonaparte, at the same time, in. fitted to produce might be the flamed the military ardour of his greater, it was observed, “That troops, and the whole French nation, they were the very same that the with whose character he was thoRussians drew along the streets of roughly acquainted, through their that city with so much ostentation, characteristical vanity and love of when lately they marched through distinction. Though naturally of them to meet the French." In order a reserved, saturnine, and sullen to heighten the exultation, it was humour, he would now and then, in stated, “ that 5,000 prisoners had meetings with his principal officers, been sent to France, that 2,000 had and others, assume a familiar talkescaped in the first inoments of con. ative humour, and make many sar. fusion, and 1,500 entered among the castic observations on the characPolish troops. Thus had the battles ter and conduct of his enemies. He with the Russians cost them a great indulged in many gasconades, magpart of their artillery, all their bag. nifying the prowess of Frenchmen, gage, and from 25,000 to 30,000 and the power and resources of men, killed, wounded, or priso. France, beyond all measure or mo. ners."

It is well known that ga- deration. The same tone of exulzettes are strongly inclined to tation, braggadocio, and confidence, magnify advantages gained on one appeared in all his gazettes or maniside, and exaggerate losses sustained festoes which were called bulletins : on the other. This is deemed the object of all which was not only good policy : and so, no doubt, it is, to keep up and exalt the courage of when the statements do not alto. the French, but to strike awe and gether exceed the bounds of proba. terror into other nations. Thongh bility. But this bias, at the period by birth an Italian, he acted to the now spoken of, had been carried to life the part of a real and true bora a pitch of extravagance, on the side Frenchman, and always identified of the Russian as well as the French his own personal interests and glory generals, altogether uuprecedented. vith those of France. To the

That the French accounts were French he represented his power more to be depended on in general and influence as established in the than the Russian, was clear from the entire submission or friendly dispoevidence of facts. But that their sition and attachment, though in successes, obtained not without an truth it was in the weakness and folly obstinate and bloody contest, and of almost all the nations on the thousands on thousands killed on continent; and to those nations, the part of the Russians, were at. again, he represented his throne as . tended in so many instances with firmly established in the confidence, such trifling losses on that of the love, and admiration of the French. French, as is stated by them, is He played off France against the



[ocr errors]

world, and the world against French retired into winter-quarters France. In a word, he set him. on the l'istula. The Russians fell self to work on all the passions back hy Ostrołenka, on the Niemen. that usually determine the condnct The king and queen of Prussia, of men and nations,-avarice, am. with the ministry, the treasure, the bition, gratitude, resentment, hope, most valuable property, and but above all, by terror. This was guard of 1,500 troops, foot and his chief dependence; and to this borse, retrcated to Alemel. The alone he could, on the whole safely other troops remaining to the king trust. For he could neither sup. of Prussia, were as

follows: pose, that the greater, or at least There irere 5,000 under

the the best, that is, the most formida. coinmand of general Lestoce, ths, ble part of the French nation could greater part of which remained in be either duped by his cajoleries, or Koningsberg. There was a garrison so blinded, and stupified by the of 6,000 Prussians in Danizig, of splendour of his arms, as to forget 2,000 at Colberg, and of 3,000 at all that was due to moral obligation, Graudenz. And from 15 to 20,000 to themselves, their offspring, and were dispersed in the different gar. their country; nor be quite certain risons of Silesia. A nilitary officer that his vassal princes and kings from England, encouraged the king would be more sensible of the be. in this extremity, whca he was lite nefits conferred in new titles and rally cooped up in tho most remote possessions, than mortified at the and smallest corner of his kingdom, degrading and precarious tenures by with the promise of assistance in which they held them. It was an both money and troops, and the im. astonishing as well as pitifut specta. mediate advance of 80,000/. for maila cle, to behold one mind governing taining the garrisons in Silesia. The so great a portion of mankind Russian army was computed by some against their dearest interests, and in. at 160,000; by others at not more deed, for the most part, against than 100,000. The imagination is their inclinations.

apt to be imposed on by the imWhile Buonaparte alvanced mense extent of the Russian en. against the Russians and Prussians pire. If we reflect on the extreme in front, with Sweden assailing, and difficulty of collecting, with proper Great Britain menacing his left wing, equipments, and stores, a vast army there was reason for the apprehen. from the difierent regions of so sion of hostility in various shapes on widely extended an empire so his right flank and in his rear. Above thinly inhabited, the lowest estimate all, an attack in case of any disas. will probably appear the nearest to ter was to be apprehended from the truth. Austria. For this reason he still re- The strength of the French army tained possession of the fortress of was estimated by some at above Brannau and an army of 40,000 men 200,000 ; by none at less than in

Dalmatia, which might be 150,000. Reinforcements of troops strengthened by reinforcements from advanced from time to time during Italy, turned the flank of the de. the whole of the campaigo, to both fence of Austria, and even mena. armies, ced its capital.

The grand Russian army, toa After the battle of Pultusk, the wards the end of January, was

B 3


supported on one side, by a corps of the French in their winter-quarof Russians and Prussians under the ters, one of the corps into which the generals Lestocq, Pahlen, and Gal. army was divided, under the comliizin, flanked on their right by mand of Bernadotte, prince of Ponte the Frisch-haff* and the Pregel, Corvo, took possession of Elbing, and covered on its left ilaok by a where there were immense magacorps under general Van Essen, zines Wied with all manner of stores originally destined against Mol. and provisions, and occupied the davia, The command of the army country around, on the shores of after the battle of Pultusk, was the Baltic. This corps, which was given to general Bennigsen, who to be supported by that of marshal had formed a junction with general Ney, posted on the right banks of Buxhoerden after his defeat at Goly. the Alla, was ordered to surprize min.

Koningsberg, with its valuable ma. The plan of the Russian gene- gazines ; which was attempted. But ral, was, to turn the left flank of the French marshals were discom. the French army, to extend his fited in the very outset of their en. force along the river, to Graudenz terprise, by the rapid advance of the and Thorn, to reduce the enemy to Russians under the counts Pahlen a necessity of evacuating Poland, to and Gallitzin, who on the 24th of straiten his quarters, and by all January compelled marshal Ney to means drive him into positions of abandon his posts on the Alla, and difficulty and disadvantage.

to retire by the way of Allenstein, As the gye of the Russian gene. behind the Dribentz, a river which ral was fixed on the Vistula, so runs into the Vistula, six miles souththat of Buonaparte was directed ease from Thoro ; where he joined to the Pregel and the Nicmen. thc corps under the grand duke of Perceiving that it was the design Berg, Murat. The Russian general of the Russians to give him no rest having for some time made a show of in his winter-quarters, le deter- following up his attack on the · mined, according to his usual sys- troops under marshal Ney, bore tem, to take the advantage of an as- with all his force on the detachment sailant, and to anticipate an attack, under the prince of Ponte Corvo, by making one. In the distribution whom he met at Mohringent, where

he * A bay or arın of the sca between Koningsberg and Elbing, separated from the Baltic by a narrow tongue of land, and communicating with that sea by a narrow passage near Pillau.

† This account of the circumstances that led to the affair of Mohringen, is different from that given by the French bulletin ; according to which the movement of the prince of Ponte-Corvo, was provoked by the boldness of “a Russian column that had gone beyond the little river of the Passarge, and had carried off half a company of the voltigeurs of the 8th regiment of the line, who were at the advanced posts of the cantonnent.” 51th Bulletin of the grand French army, Warsaw, January 27, 1307.- But, in the same bulletin we read, “Some battalions of Ney's corps bad advanced trenty leagues from their cantonments. The Russian army took the alarm, and made a movement on its right. The battalions have returned within the line of their cantonments.” It will be asked bowever, by whose orders, and for what other object than that above stated, had they advanced so far beyond the line of their cantonments? The movement of Ney was plainly comhe had established bis head quarters, The Russian and French details of pushing his out-posts to the distance the baule of Vohringen, though dif. of a leagne, that is, about three En. ferent, were not very inconsistent in glish miles from the town on the any material point, except that both toad to Liebstadt.

parties claimed the victory. But judg. The Russian general Markow,with ing from the immediate result of the a division of the corps uoder'the action, we must conclude that it was command of the counts Pahlen and in favourof the Russians. The French Gallitzin, attacked the French at do not pretend that the Russians Mohringen, January 25. After a fell back beyond Liebstadt, which very sharp action in which the was only six or seren miles from the eagle of the 9th regiment of the field of action; whereas, Bernadotte, French infantry was taken, the according to their own accounts, re. Russians were repulsed. But being treated to Strasburg, on the Driafterwards reinforced by a division bentz, which is situated at the dis. of cavalry under general Anrep, the tance of 60 miles from Mohringen. battle was renewed. In these ac- The writer of the French bulle. tions at Mohringen, the French, ac- tins, Maret, Buonaparte's military cording to the Russian accounts, lost secretary, in concert with the état. more than 1,000 men, in killed and major, or generals on the staff, ac. wounded; the Russians, according to counts for the retreat of Bernadotte the French accounts, left 12,000, in another manner : 6 After the batdead on the field of battle, and tle of Mohringen, in which the Rus. among those, general Anrep, whose sian advanced guard was defeated, death was greatly deplored by the the enemy retreated upon Liebstadt. whole Russian army.

But the corps of general Van Essen, During the action or actions near which was at first destined for Mol. Mohringen, prince Michael Dolgo- davia, and also a number of fresh rowki, with his regiment of dra. regiments from different parts of the goons, went round to the rear of the Russian empiré, having joined the enemy, made his way to head-quar. Russian army in Poland, the enemy ters without being perceived, and again, so early as the 27th of Jan. carried off the French marshal's equi- advanced in great force, with the depage, his plate, some ladies, and a sign of removing the theatre of the large sum of money, part of the war to the Lower Vistula. The empillage of Elbing. A great number peror, being informed of these e. of prisoners also fell into the hands vents, ordered the prince of Ponte. of the Russians, among whom Corvo to retreat, and also to favour were three generals, including the offensive operations of the enegeneral Victor, who was taken by my, in order to draw them towards a small party belonging to the the Lower Vistula*.” As it was alPrussian garrison of Colberg, as together unnecessary to make use of he was on his way to take the auy feint to engage the Russians in command of the army besieging a design which they had already Dantzig

formed, and were indeed in the act of

bined with that of Bernadotte ; but Buonaparte was unwilling to acknowledge that any design of been frustrated; and therefore explains matters in his own way, as just stated. 56th bulletin of the grand French army. Arensdorf, Feb. 5.

B 4


« PreviousContinue »