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There was anotherally more powerful than either of the two just mentioned, on which the Russians might, and no doubt did reckon, namely, a rigorous climate to which they themselves were inured, but which might prove fatal to soldiers from France, Spain, and Italy. The enemy too, in proportion as he should advance into Poland, or beyond it, would be drawn into difficulties and dangers on the line of his operations, in territories, with the nature or ground of which he could not be well acquainted, and farther and farther removed from supplies and reinforcements. The Russians, on the contrary, would receive reinforcements and stores both by land and sea from Russia, Sweden, gland. The young and hee king of Sweden, emulating his ancestor the great Gustavus Adolphus, with the aid both of a subsidy, and troops from England, might march an army through the Lower Saxony, from Dantzig and Colberg, as far as Hamburgh. This army, augmented in its progress by insurgents, in Hesse, Hanover, and the Prussian dominions, might pass the Elbe, and establish a war in the centre of Germany; where if he should be able to maintain himself for any length of time, he might
reasonably expect to be joined by the Austrians.-Such, it may be presumed, were the considerations that encouraged and determined the court of St. Petersburg to undertake and to persevere in the war with France. The battle of Pultusk, though bloody and obstinately contested, was indecisive: and it must be admitted that if the nations, on whose favour and co-operation the Russians depended, had understood and pursued their respective, as well as their common interest, and harmoniously joined in one well-concerted plan of action, their design might not have proved abortive.
It is, however, not physical, but moral force that governs the world : bold conception, a just discrimination between difficulty and impossibility, profound combination, unity of design, promptitude and rapidity of action. It was not physical force, but sublime genius and an ascendancy over the minds of men, that gave energy and success to the measures of Alexander of Macedon, Hannibal, and Julius Cæsar. All great results spring from small, + and, at first, imperceptible origius; one constant impulsion, constantly and uniformly accelerating. In confederations there is generally something that misgives; something false
In consequence of the exactions of the French, there had broken out in the territory of Hesse, a very considerable insurrection of about 10,000 men consisting principally of disbanded soldiers and peasants. Those among them who had served as non-commissioned officers, were appointed officers. They then armed themselves by seizing all the muskets, swords, and pieces of artillery they could lay their hands on. The insurrection had begun to extend itself to Hanover and Saxony, when this honest effervescence of German indignation was calmed by the prudent and paternal remonstrances of the prince of Hesse.
Natura in minimis maxima.--Pliny. The kingdoms of the earth are in this respect like the kingdom of heaven, i. e. of Jesus Christ: "The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which indeed is the least of all seeds, but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof. Mark xiii. 31-3,
and hollow. It is seldom even possible for the confederating parties to form, as emergencies arise, a concert of wills in time, and seldomer still that they submit without re. serve to the will of one dictator. The fragility of confederations had been proved by three coalitions against the ruler of France, and the issue of a fourth was now to be added to the number.
Buonaparte, sensible of the disadvantages of being placed at so great a distance from France, as the countries between the Vistula and the Niemen, was in the first place, and above all things, attentive to the means of conveyance, or what in the French armies is called the AmbuLance. On the great roads between the Rhine and the Vistula, hundreds and thousands of carriages were every where to be seen, going or returning from Thorn and Warsaw. Travellers unacquainted with the state of public affairs in Germany and Poland, might have supposed that the continued motion on the bighways was occasioned by a flourishing internal commerce. From the countries that lay at his mercy, Buonaparte drew provisions, and forage, and even additions to his military force, while, at the same time, one body of troops after another continued to march for his support from the frontier of France. Buonaparte was also, in a very par. ticular manner, attentive to the commissary department. The different corps and divisions of his army were sure to find bread, at least, in abundance, and, as much as possible, every comfort required by a rigorous climate. Being intimately ac quainted with the interests and views of the courts of Europe, and the Individual characters of favourites
and ministers, he endeavoured, if he could not at once induce them to acquiesce in his plans, at least to occupy, and distract their minds, and by an appearance of negotiation, to sow the seeds of mutual discord between the powers confederated, or that might be inclined to con federate against him. At the same time that he was busily employed in forming the confederation of the Rhine, that is, in the extension of his own power, and preparing for the extension of his conquests, he amused Russia and England with a negotiation for peace, which he professed to have always uppermost in his mind and heart, but which he really contemplated not as an end, but a means: the means of renewing war with greater advantage. He laboured by all means, to detach the king of Sweden from the cause of his allies, by professions of goodwill, respect, and admiration, and even by dis memberments in his favour, of Prus. sia and Denmark. He roused the Turks to war against Russia, and entered into a negotiation for an alliance offensive and defensive with the emperor of Persia, Ambassadors were seen in his camp from Ispahan and Constantinople. Whether he really harboured the extravagant design of sending a French army through Persia to Hindostan, or no, may reasonably be doubted: but an embassy from Persia to the emperor of France, had an imposing air of widely ex. tended and formidable influence, and might have an effect in any fu. ture negotiation for peace, on the councils of Russia and England.
On every occasion when a happy stage-effect might be produced, he was careful to produce it. Eightyfour pieces of cannon taken from the B 2
Russian generals Kamenskoy, Bennigsen, and Buxhoevden, in the battles of Czarnowo, Nasielsk, Pultusk, and Golymin, were ranged before the palace of the republic of Warsaw. And that the effect which the sight of se grand a triumph was fitted to produce might be the greater, it was observed, "That they were the very same that the Russians drew along the streets of that city with so much ostentation, when lately they marched through them to meet the French." In order to heig en the exultation, it was stated, "that 5,000 prisoners had been sent to France, that 2,000 had escaped in the first moments of confusion, and 1,500 entered among the Polish troops. Thus had the battles with the Russians cost them a great part of their artillery, all their baggage, and from 25,000 to 30,000 men, killed, wounded, or priso. ners." It is well known that gazettes are strongly inclined to magnify advantages gained on one side, and exaggerate losses sustained on the other. This is deemed good policy and so, no doubt, it is, when the statements do not altogether exceed the bounds of probability. But this bias, at the period now spoken of, had been carried to a pitch of extravagance, on the side of the Russian as well as the French generals, altogether uuprecedented. That the French accounts were more to be depended on in general than the Russian, was clear from the evidence of facts. But that their successes, obtained not without an obstinate and bloody contest, and thousands on thousands killed on the part of the Russians, were attended in so many instances with such trifling losses on that of the French, as is stated by them, is
altogether incredible, and beyond all doubt intended only for the eyes or ears of the young conscripts. They were called to the field of glory, which was represented as dangerous only to their enemies.
Buonaparte, at the same time, inflamed the military ardour of his troops, and the whole French nation, with whose character he was thoroughly acquainted, through their characteristical vanity and love of distinction. Though naturally of a reserved, saturnine, and sullen humour, he would now and then, in meetings with his principal officers, and others, assume a familiar talkative humour, and make many sarcastic observations on the character and conduct of his enemies. He indulged in many gasconades, magnifying the prowess of Frenchmen, and the power and resources of France, beyond all measure or moderation. The same tone of exultation, braggadocio, and confidence, appeared in all his gazettes or manifestoes which were called bulletins : the object of all which was not only to keep up and exalt the courage of the French, but to strike awe and terror into other nations. Though by birth an Italian, he acted to the life the part of a real and true born Frenchman, and always identified. his own personal interests and glory with those of France. To the French he represented his power and influence as established in the entire submission or friendly disposition and attachment, though in truth it was in the weakness and folly of almost all the nations on the continent; and to those nations, again, he represented his throne as firmly established in the confidence, love, and admiration of the French. He played off France against the
world, and the world against France. In a word, he set himself to work on all the passions that usually determine the conduct of men and nations,-avarice, ambition, gratitude, resentment, hope, but above all, by terror. This was his chief dependence; and to this alone he could, on the whole safely trust. For he could neither suppose, that the greater, or at least the best, that is, the most formidable part of the French nation could be either duped by his cajoleries, or so blinded and stupified by the splendour of his arms, as to forget all that was due to moral obligation, to themselves, their offspring, and their country; nor be quite certain that his vassal princes and kings would be more sensible of the be. nefits conferred in new titles and possessions, than mortified at the degrading and precarious tenures by which they held them. It was an astonishing as well as pitiful spectacle, to behold one mind governing so great a portion of mankind against their dearest interests, and indeed, for the most part, against their inclinations.
While Buonaparte advanced against the Russians and Prussians in front, with Sweden assailing, and Great Britain menacing his left wing, there was reason for the apprehension of hostility in various shapes on his right flank and in his rear. Above all, an attack in case of any disas. ter was to be apprehended from Austria. For this reason he still retained possession of the fortress of Brannau and an army of 40,000 men in Dalmatia, which might be strengthened by reinforcements from Italy, turned the flank of the defence of Austria, and even menaced its capital.
After the battle of Pultusk, the
French retired into winter-quarters on the Vistula. The Russians fell back by Ostrolenka, on the Niemen. The king and queen of Prussia, with the ministry, the treasure, the most valuable property and a guard of 1,500 troops, foot and horse, retreated to Alemel. The other troops remaining to the king of Prussia, were as follows:There were 5,000 under the command of general Lestocq, the greater part of which remained in Koningsberg. There was a garrison of 6,000 Prussians in Dantzig, of 2,000 at Colberg, and of 3,000 at Graudenz. And from 15 to 20,000 were dispersed in the different gar. risons of Silesia. A military officer from England, encouraged the king in this extremity, when he was lite rally cooped up in the most remote and smallest corner of his kingdom, with the promise of assistance in both money and troops, and the im. mediate advance of 80,000l. for maintaining the garrisons in Silesia. The Russian army was computed by some at 160,000; by others at not more than 100,000. The imagination is apt to be imposed on by the immense extent of the Russian empire. If we reflect on the extreme difficulty of collecting, with proper equipments, and stores, a vast army. from the different regions of so widely extended an empire so thinly inhabited, the lowest estimate will probably appear the nearest to the truth.
The strength of the French army was estimated by some at above 200,000; by none at less than 150,000. Reinforcements of troops advanced from time to time during the whole of the campaign, to both armies.
The grand Russian army, towards the end of January, was B 3 supported
supported on one side, by a corps of Russians and Prussians under the generals Lestocq, Pahlen, and Gallitzin, flanked on their right by the Frisch-haff and the Pregel, and covered on its left flank by a corps under general Van Essen, originally destined against Moldavia. The command of the army after the battle of Pultusk, was given to general Bennigsen, who had formed a junction with general Buxhoevden after his defeat at Goly. min.
The plan of the Russian general, was, to turn the left flank of the French army, to extend his force along the river, to Graudenz and Thorn, to reduce the enemy to a necessity of evacuating Poland, to straiten his quarters, and by all means drive him into positions of difficulty and disadvantage.
As the eye of the Russian general was fixed on the Vistula, so that of Buonaparte was directed to the Pregel and the Niemen. Perceiving that it was the design of the Russians to give him no rest in his winter-quarters, he determined, according to his usual system, to take the advantage of an assailant, and to anticipate an attack, by making one. In the distribution
of the French in their winter-quarters, one of the corps into which the army was divided, under the command of Bernadotte, prince of Ponte Corvo, took possession of Elbing, where there were immense magazines filled with all manner of stores and provisions, and occupied the country around, on the shores of the Baltic. This corps, which was to be supported by that of marshal Ney, posted on the right banks of the Alla, was ordered to surprize Koningsberg, with its valuable magazines; which was attempted. But the French marshals were discomfited in the very outset of their enterprise, by the rapid advance of the Russians under the counts Pahlen and Gallitzin, who on the 24th of January compelled marshal Ney to abandon his posts on the Alla, and to retire by the way of Allenstein, behind the Dribentz, a river which runs into the Vistula, six miles southeast from Thorn; where he joined the corps under the grand duke of Berg, Murat. The Russian general having for some time made a show of following up his attack on the troops under marshal Ney, bore with all his force on the detachment under the prince of Ponte Corvo, whom he met at Mohringen †, where
A bay or arm 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 cantonment." 54th Bulletin of the grand French army, Warsaw, Jauuary 27, 1807.—But, in the same bulletin we read, "Some battalions of Ney's corps had advanced twenty 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 however, 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 com