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reasoner, he was a man of fiery energy and determined will. Sharp in temper, he ill brooked opposition; strong and eager in feeling, he was not always impartial in his conclusions. Of the highest honour, every statement which he makes of his own knowledge may be implicitly relied upon, but with the conclusions which he draws from the facts he has observed we cannot always concur. There is always much truth in them, but, we think, he some times omits considerations on the other side, a due regard to which would have considerably modified his judgments. As was to be expected from his antecedents, he has adopted the views of the "young," as contradistinguished from the "old" Russian party-of those eager for decisive action, not of those aiming at a cautious and temporising, but successful policy; in a word, of Alexander Milaradowitch and the young army, not of Kutusoff and the old noblesse. Admirable in narrative, we do not think that he is balanced in judgment. But he has left a work which will impress its stamp on every future relation of the great Russian war, and has thrown much new light on the tangled maze of European politics.

In April 1812 Sir Robert Wilson sailed from England with the embassy sent to Turkey. He had the rank of brigadier-general conferred upon him, and was furnished with special instructions. Arriving at Constantinople at the end of June, he left it for Schumla on the 27th July. He was sent by the British ambassador to conduct the negotiations-which led to the final conclusion of the peace of Bucharest, and recession of the Principalities to Turkey-with the Turkish vizier at Schulma, and the Russian general at Bucharest. As soon as peace was concluded, and the Russian army of Moldavia rendered disposable, he was ordered to proceed to the Emperor Alexander, at St Petersburg. On his way he reached the headquarters of the main Russian army on the eve of the battle of Smolensko-and here the valuable

part of his work begins. Before entering upon it, it may not be useless to cast a hasty glance over the previous movements of the campaign.

On the 24th June 1812, Napoleon crossed the Niemen and invaded Russia. Four hundred and twenty thousand men followed his standards: 210,000 more joined them before the campaign was complete, making 630,000 the total number of those who took part in this crusade of the western world against the empire of the Czars. To oppose this enormous force the Russians had not above 250,000 men. At first their main army was divided into two masses one, 130,000 strong, under Barclay, grouped around Wilna; the other, not quite 50,000, under Bagrathion, 150 miles to the south, at Wilkowich, in the government of Grodno.* Napoleon, with his usual skill, threw himself into the open space between these two, drove Barclay back on the intrenched camp of Drissa on the Dwina, in the direction of St Petersburg, and threw Bagrathion on an eccentric line of retreat by the long circuit of Bobrinsk and Now Bichow, on Smolensko on the Dnieper, in the direction of Moscow. He next attempted to cut Barclay altogether off from the Moscow line, by moving in the direction of Witepsk into the opening, about fifty miles broad, which separates the Dwina, which flows into the Baltic, from the Dnieper, which runs into the Black Sea. In this attempt, however, he was foiled by Barclay, who, suspecting his design, abandoned the intrenched camp at Drissa, and, marching swiftly to his left, reached Witepsk before Napoleon, crossed the Dwina there, and, passing over the watershed, descended to the banks of the Dnieper at Smolensko, where he at last united his forces to those of Bagrathion. Frustrated in his attempt, Napoleon halted at Witepsk, and cantoned his army from the banks of the Dwina to those of the Dnieper. Unable to withstand the clamour of his troops, now almost ungovernable from indignation at their long retreat without fighting, Barclay,

Away to the south, beyond the marshes of Pinsk, watching the Austrian frontier, lay a third army, under Tormassoff, 43,000 strong; and there were 34,000 in reserve.



contrary to his own judgment, undertook an offensive movement against the centre of his adversary's scattered line. But Napoleon, roused by this movement, rapidly concentrated, and, marching to his right, crossed the Dnieper, and ascended its left bank towards Smolensko, thus turning Barclay's left, and forcing him to fall back swiftly on the same place. Both armies arrived in sight of Smolensko at the same moment. The French came by the right, the Russians by the left bank. The town was situated on the French side of the river. Barclay garrisoned it with 30,000 men, and on the 17th of August Napoleon attacked it with 70,000, and held 80,000 in hand ready to support them. But he could make no impression. He won the suburbs, but the Russians held the town; he lost 10,000 killed and wounded, they only 6000. The Russian army, elated with this repulse, and regarding Smolensko, as their holy town, with a superstitious veneration, were eager to fight it out. Their officers shared the same feeling. When Sir Robert Wilson, by Barclay's orders, entered the place at eleven o'clock at night to inquire into its state, he was assured by Prince Eugene of Wirtemberg, General Doctorow, and all the generals commanding the stations, that they could hold out for ten days more, if supplied with provisions, for not the slightest impression had been made on the defences."(WILSON, 105.)


Barclay, however, was unwilling to be drawn into a prolonged contest, which might waste away the numbers of his already overmatched army, in a position which might at any time be turned by a passage of the Dnieper above the town. was desirous of falling back before the invaders, with his own force entire, well furnished with supplies, and daily strengthened by recruits, whilst he wasted the line of their advance with his Cossacks. He hoped thus to lure them on upon a path where every step in advance was a loss to them of men, horses, and materiel, until their gradual wasting away and his increase restored the equality of numbers, and gave him an opportunity of fighting upon equal terms. Did

he delay where he was, he incurred the risk of being turned, and having his retreat to Moscow cut off by a flank march of Napoleon to his left, for there were several fords on the Dnieper above the town, and already the French cavalry had been seen examining them with care. In these circumstances he resolved, in spite of the general dissatisfaction of his troops, to abandon the town during the night, and fall back towards Moscow. But even this was not now an easy task.

Two roads lead from Smolenskothe one to Moscow, the other to St Petersburg. The former ran for about six miles parallel to the Dnieper, and under the fire, both from artillery and musketry, of the French on the opposite bank. Barclay had already sent along it Bagrathion's army to Dorogobouge, but as the enemy had now closed upon the river, he could no longer use it to draw off his own men. He was obliged, therefore, to fall back along the Petersburg road, and, when he had gained some distance, wheel to his right, and make a semicircular march along cross-paths round to the Moscow road, beyond the point where it left the river bank. But this was a most hazardous movement in presence of an enemy who, having bridged the stream as soon as the town of Smolensko was evacuated, was in possession of the centre of the circle along the circumference of which the Russians must pass. Bagrathion's army had passed the point where the cross-roads Barclay was following fall into the Moscow road at Loubino, and consequently was of no use; and this all-important post was held only by General Touchkoff with a few thousand men. Had the French moved at once in force upon this point, Barclay was lost, for Touchkoff must have been driven in, Loubino won, and the Russian main body finally cut off from Bagrathion, and its line of retreat on Moscow. But fortunately Napoleon did not immediately perceive the advantage within his grasp. Ney, whose corps had first crossed, began by following Barclay's rear-guard along the St Petersburg road, and sustained a sharp conflict with it, but finally

was directed by Napoleon to take the Moscow line, and push on with vigour. Part of Davoust's corps was ordered to support him. But these changes caused hesitation and delay, and it was not till three o'clock in the afternoon that Ney fell upon Touchkoff, although the position of the latter was not above five miles from Smolensko. The Russians were posted behind a small stream flowing in a ravine. After a sharp contest, they were driven back from this position over the plateau of Valoutina, across another ravine, and finally took post upon a hill above the marshy stream of the Stragan, where they prepared to make their final stand; for immediately behind this the cross-road along which Barclay came fell in. A step backward, and all was lost. Strongly and fiercely did the Russians fight-swiftly and eagerly did the French come on. Their surging numbers threatened to overwhelm the Russians, when the head of Barclay's advanced guard, with eight guns, debouching from the lane, restored the contest. But Gudin's division of Davoust's corps now joined Ney, and the battle raged more fiercely than ever. The decisive moment had come.

"It was about sunset," says Wilson, "when the enemy on the main road upon the left bank, flattering themselves that their right was gaining ground, made a desperate effort to force the hill on which several Russian guns were placed, and which commanded the whole position, and also in reverse the outlet of the cross-road, beyond which a boggy rivulet ran, intersecting the route. Over this only one bridge with loose planks afforded passage for the artillery and infantry, until night, when two others were thrown across by Duke Alexander of Wirtemberg. For an instant the Russian guns and troops supporting, overwhelmed with shells, shot, and musketry, flew back to seek shelter behind the crest of the hill; but General Barclay, who had been superintending the action with his rear-guard, admonished by the cannonade at Loubino and Waloutina Gora of the new danger to his advanced guard, opportunely arrived at this moment, and,

seeing the extent of the danger to his column, galloped forward sword in hand at the head of his staff (including myself, with two Russian officers attached to me as aides-de-camp) and orderlies, rallying the fugitives, and crying out post, or perish!' by his energy and ex'Victory or death! We must preserve this ample reanimating all, recovered possession of the height, and thus, under God's favour, the army was preserved. The loss on each side was not much more than six thousand men. The Russians had suffered most by the attack on their guard. The French had in the other attacks been the most exposed.”—(WILSON, 108, 109.)*

Having now happily reunited their forces, the Russians continued their retreat during the night. Barclay, yielding to the almost mutiny of his troops, now made up his mind to give battle. To such a pitch had this feeling come amongst both officers and men, that Platoff, the Cossack leader, came to the Russian commander on the evacuation of Smolensko and said, "You see I wear but a cloak: I will never put on again a Russian uniform, since it has become a disgrace!" It was first intended to have fought at Dorogobouge, but the position chosen there being found defective, they fell back in search of one. Sir Robert Wilson meanwhile continued his journey to St Petersburg, but now the bearer of one of the most extraordinary communications ever sent by soldiers to a sovereign. We give the account of the transaction in his own words:

"When Sir Robert Wilson reached the Russian army, he found the generals in open dissension with the commander-inchief, General Barclay, for having already suffered the enemy to overrun so many provinces, and for not making any serious disposition to defend the line of the Dnieper. Some wished that General Benningsen should have the command, others Prince Bagrathion; and General Benningsen, fearing that he might be forced into the command by a military election when it was known that Smolensko was to be evacuated, left the army, and withdrew several marches to the rear, that the Emperor's orders for the

Had Junot, who had forded the Dnieper above the Russian position, attacked their left rear with his corps, they must have been destroyed. But he refused to move, declaring that "his orders were limited to the passage of the river, and that a marsh in his front would prevent the deployment of his force."-(WILSON, 94.)

appointment of a new chief might arrive during his absence. Before his (Wilson's) departure for St Petersburg, however, it

had been resolved to send to the Emperor not only the request of the army 'for a new chief,' but a declaration, in the name of the army, that if an order came from St Petersburg to suspend hos tilities and treat the invaders as friends' (which was apprehended to be the true motive of the retrograde movements, in deference to the policy of Count Romanzow), such an order would be regarded as one which did not express his Imperial Majesty's real sentiments and wishes, but had been extracted from his Majesty under false representations or external control, and that the army would continue to maintain his pledge, and pursue the contest till the invader was driven beyond the frontier. Since the execution of such a commission might expose a Russian officer to future punishment, and the conveyance of such a communication by a subject to the sovereign was calculated to pain and give offence, when no offence was proposed, it was communicated by a body of generals to Sir Robert Wilson, that under the circumstances of his known attachment to the Emperor, and his Imperial Majesty's equally well known feelings towards him, no person was considered so properly qualified to put the Emperor in possession of the sentiments of the army; that his motives in accept ing the mission could not be suspected; and that the channel was one which would best avoid trespass on personal respect, and prevent irritation from personal feelings being humiliated.'" (WILSON, 111, 112.)

Sir Robert undertook the delicate mission, and reached St Petersburg on the 24th August. The Emperor was then at Abo, whither he had gone to meet Bernadotte. There is no monarch who has come much worse out of the ordeal of history than this Swedish one. Selfishness seems to have been the only rule which guided his conduct. Of any higher motive he was entirely guileless. Thiers has revealed that he offered to unite his whole forces to those of France for the overthrow of Russia, provided the possession of Norway was secured to him. Napoleon-to his honour be it said-refused to spoliate his old ally Denmark, and Bernadotte then proceeded to offer his mercenary alliance to England and Russia upon the same terms. They accepted it, for it was of immense importance to

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"Those negotiations were concluded which rendered disposable the Russian army of Finland, and secured the cooperation of a Swedish force, assuring Norway to Sweden, under the guarantee of England, with one million sterling as subsidy, which, moreover, held out to the King the prospect of ascending the throne of France,-Alexander having declared in his presence that he should consider it vacant in case of Napoleon's overthrow,' and having replied to the King's question, To whom then would it be given?' with a pointed emphasis and accompanying inclination of the head, 'Au plus digne !'"-(WILSON, 113.)

This is a most curious and valuable revelation. The conduct of Bernadotte in the subsequent course of the contest was so extraordinary-the resolution with which he held back his forces from any active participation in it was so great-the pressure which had to be applied to him by Sir Charles Stewart in 1813 to bring him up on the third day to Leipsic, and by Lord Castlereagh in 1814 to tear from his reluctant grasp the Russian and Prussian corps which rendered Blucher victorious at Laon, was so extreme, that every attentive reader of these transactions was driven to one of two alternatives-either that Bernadotte was a traitor, or that he was aiming at the throne of France. This most curious revelation of Sir Robert Wilson's, however, renders the motives of his conduct clear. The Russian Emperor had indirectly held out to him the bait of the French throne to induce him to enter into the alliance, and it was therefore but natural that he should endeavour to hang back as much as possible in the actual contest, and avoid to the utmost of his power wounding the susceptible vanity of his future subjects, and being associated in their minds with the overthrow of their dominion and the humiliation of their country.

On the 3d September the Emperor returned to St Petersburg, and during a private conversation after dinner, Sir Robert communicated to him the views of his army. His account of Alexander's conduct on

the occasion is so characteristic, and throws so much light both upon his character and the state of Russia at the time, that we give it in full :—

"During this exposition, the Emperor's colour occasionally visited and left his cheek. When Sir Robert Wilson had terminated his appeal, there was a minute or two of pause, and his Majesty drew towards the window, as if desirous of recovering an unembarrassed air before he replied. After a few struggles, however, he came up to Sir Robert Wilson, took him by the hand, and kissed him on the forehead and cheek, according to the Russian custom. You are the only person,' then said his Majesty, from whom I could or would have heard such a communication. In the former war you proved your attachment to me by your services, and you entitled yourself to my most intimate confidence; but you must be aware that you have placed me in a very distressing position. Moi! souverain de la Russie !to hear such things from any one! But the army is mistaken in Romanzow: he really has not advised submission to the Emperor Napoleon; and I have a great respect for him, since he is almost the only one who never asked me in his life for anything on his own account; whereas every one else in my service has always been seeking honours, wealth, or some private object for himself and connections. I am unwilling to sacrifice him without cause: but come again tomorrow. I must collect my thoughts before I despatch you with an answer. I know the generals and officers about them well; they mean, I am satisfied, to do their duty, and I have no fears of their having any unavowed designs against my authority. But I am to be pitied; for I have few about me who have any sound education or fixed principles: my grandmother's court vitiated the whole education of the empire, confining it to the acquisition of the French language, French frivolities and vices, particularly gaming. I have little, therefore, on which I can firmly rely only impulses: I must not give way to them, if possible; but I will think on all you have said.' His Majesty then embraced Sir Robert Wilson again, and appointed the next day for his further attendance. Sir Robert Wilson obeyed his Majesty's commands, who renewed the subject almost immediately by saying, Well! Monsieur l'Ambassadeur des rebelles, I have reflected seriously during the whole night upon the conversation of yesterday, and I have

not done you injustice. You shall carry back to the army pledges of my determination to continue the war against Napoleon whilst a Frenchman is in arms on this side the frontier. I will not desert my engagements, come what may. I will abide the worst. I am ready to remove my family into the interior, and undergo every sacrifice; but I must not give way on the point of choosing my own ministers: that concession might induce other demands still more inconvenient and indecorous for me to grant. Count Romanzow shall difference; everything will be done that not be the means of any disunion or can remove uneasiness on that head, but done so that I shall not appear to give way to menace, or have to reproach myself for injustice. This is a case where much depends on the manner of doing it. Give me a little time-all will be satisfactorily arranged.'"—(WILSON, 116, 117.)

Sir Robert was shortly after sent back to the army, instructed by the Emperor to announce in his name to the generals that he

"Declared upon his honour, and directed him to repeat in the most formal manner, the declaration, that his Majesty would not enter into or permit any negotiation with Napoleon as long as an armed Frenchman remained in the territories of Russia. He would sooner let his beard grow to his waist, and eat potatoes in Siberia. At the same time, he specially authorised Sir Robert Wilson (who was to reside with the Russian Army as British Commissioner), to intervene with all the power and influence he could exert, to protect the interests of the Imperial Crown, in conformity with that pledge, whenever he saw any disposition or design to contravene or prejudice them."-(WILSON, 119.)

It was the 15th September when Sir Robert left St Petersburg for the headquarters of the Russian army. He did not rejoin it, in consequence, until after the evacuation of Moscow. Great events had happened in the mean time. Barclay had been superseded in the command by Marshal Kutusoff. His character is thus sketched by our author :

"A bon vivant-polished, courteous, shrewd as a Greek, naturally intelligent as an Asiatic, and well instructed as a European he was more disposed to trust to diplomacy for his success than

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