Napoleonic Literature
Napoleon and His Marshals - Vol. II
Chapter XVII
MARSHAL OUDINOT

His Early Life— Bravery at Feldkirch— At Zurich— His Daring at the Bridge Tabor— Made Marshal at Wagram— His Courage at the Passage of the Beresina— Battle of Bautzen— Magnificent Spectacle of the Army— Death of Duroc and Mournful Scene around the Tent of the Emperor.


    OUDINOT will probably be the last marshal that will ever act as Governor of the Invalides, and be the last representative of those veteran soldiers of the Emperor, for whom they fought. One of the few remaining props of Napoleon's throne, he, too, is slowly crumbling beside the tomb of the proud monarch, and will soon sleep with the heroes by whose side he struggled.
    He was born at Bar, April 2, 1767, and was christened Charles Nicolas. His father was a brewer, and young Nicolas followed the same occupation, and bid fair to see, some day, "Charles Nicolas Oudinot" stamped in large characters on beer barrels. In ordinary times he would have lived and died around his own vats, contented with the moderate circumstances in which fortune had placed him; but the Revolution called him to sterner employment, and to fields of toil and fame. An ardent republican, be adopted with all the fervor of youth those principles of equality and universal liberty, which the French armies had brought back from our shores. But, though a republican, he was not a Jacobin; and his native town being plundered, and about to be burned, he rallied his companions, and forming them into a military company, attacked and frightened away the revolutionary robbers. He soon after obtained a commission in the army, and his career fairly commenced. He fought gallantly for his country under the first republican generals, Hoche, Pichegru, Moreau, etc., and rose rapidly in rank. He defended the castle of Ritche successfully against an attack of the Prussians, and evinced that rash bravery which afterward distinguished him. In 1799 he was made general of division, and while Lannes and Murat and Davoust were struggling around the Pyramids, he was winning laurels in the Alps under Massena. He advanced upon Feldkirch, in which the Austrians were strongly intrenched, but was met in his passage by an army sent out to arrest his progress. This he attacked with his usual impetuosity, charging repeatedly at the head of his grenadiers into the very center of the enemy's fire, but was as often compelled to recoil before the shock. Thus, for a whole day, he fought; but at length succeeded in driving the enemy before him into Feldkirch.
    The capture of this fortified place was extremely important to the French; and Jourdan, then on the Danube, sent orders to Massena to strain every nerve to take it. But seated on a rocky eminence, with a river at its base, and flanked by strong intrenchments, it bade defiance to every assault. Still, Oudinot, at the head of his grenadiers, crossed the stream, and steadily moved up the rocky ascent, to the very walls of the fortifications under Massena. He advanced upon Feldkirch, in which the Austrians were strongly intrenched, but was met in his passage by an army sent out to arrest his progress. This he attacked with his usual impetuosity, charging repeatedly at the head of his grenadiers into the very center of the enemy's fire, but was as often compelled to recoil before the shock. Thus, for a whole day, he fought; but at length succeeded in driving the enemy before him into Feldkirch.
    The capture of t1his fortified place was extremely important to the French; and Jourdan, then on the Danube, sent orders to Massena to strain every nerve to take it. But seated on a rocky eminence, with a river at its base, and flanked by strong intrenchments, it bade defiance to every assault. Still, Oudinot, at the head of his grenadiers, crossed the stream, and steadily moved up the rocky ascent, to the very walls of the fortifications—but in vain. Before the heavy and well-directed fire that received them, they were compelled to fall back, though they bore up a long time against the storm. Oudinot, enraged at the repeated failure of his attempts, again put himself at their head, and, amid the most sweeping volleys, led them into the very muzzles of the guns, and there, with his sword waving over his head, cheered them on. But it was impossible to beat down the walls which protected the enemy, and Oudinot, after making a succession of most desperate onsets, exposing his person like a common soldier, and urging his men by his enthusiastic words and example, was compelled to acknowledge that he could not carry the place. Massena, however, feeling how important it was to take it, as it commanded the chief passage into the Tyrol, came up with another division, and joining it to the grenadiers, put himself at their head, and once more sounded the charge. This intrepid chief, with Oudinot by his side, rushed furiously on the intrenchments, and struggled long and obstinately to carry them, but in vain. Mangled, shattered, and thinned, those brave troops were compelled to withdraw, after leaving three thousand of their companions at the foot of the walls. The flower of the army lay there, and where Oudinot had led his grenadiers the slain were thickest.
    Soon after a general attack was made On Massena's lines and be was driven from the Grisons. Oudinot, however,
attacked an Austrian division, and after a severe combat defeated it, taking 1500 prisoners.
    In the mean time, the victorious Suwarrow, after beating Macdonald at the Trebbia and Joubert and Moreau at Novi, began to pour his conquering legions over the Alps, to drive Massena from Switzerland. The latter occupied the pass at St. Gothard, and was threatening seriously Zurich, which Korsakow still held, when intelligence was brought him that Suwarrow was hastening up. He had been reinforced till his army amounted to 80,000 men, and with these he bore down on Zurich.
    This partial recapitulation is made in order to explain the movements purposely emitted in the article on Massena.* Oudinot, at the head of 15,000 men, was the right arm of Massena on this occasion.
    As the last night previous to the assault approached, the little town presented a scene of indescribable confusion. The Russian army forced back from all points, filled the streets, artillery and ammunition wagons, and excited cavalry, forcing their way through the crowd, added to the chaos; while cries, and shouts, and sounds of alarm mingled together in ceaseless discord. As darkness fell over this beautiful Swiss village, the heights back of it glowed with the innumerable watchfires of the French, while blazing bombs began to descend in huge semicircles, throwing wrathful streaks over the tranquil lake that stretched away on the other side, and sending terror and dismay among the inhabitants. All night long was heard the heavy tramp of infantry, mingled with words of command, as Korsakow prepared to cut his way through the enemy. At daybreak his army sallied forth along the only road by which it could retreat, and fell with the energy of despair on the French columns. Over heaps of the slain, and amid the most horrid carnage, it steadily made its way, until it broke the array of the republicans. But thrown into confusion by repeated charges, it rushed in utter disorder along the road, leaving its cannon, military chest, and ammunition wagons with the victors.
    While this fierce conflict was going on along the road, Oudinot came pouring down into the town like an Alpine torrent, sweeping everything before him. A fierce struggle ensued in the streets with the garrison, but his victorious battalions bore down all opposition, and the remaining troops surrendered. Eight thousand Russians lay piled in the streets and along the road, and Zurich ran blood.
    Massena did not forget the service that Oudinot rendered him during this campaign, and the next year, when sent by Bonaparte to defend Genoa, he selected him chief of his staff. During all the fierce struggle around the city, he brought efficient aid to the leader who had chosen him, and, amid the horrors of the siege that followed, proved himself a hero in endurance as well as in daring. When Massena resolved to force his way through the Austrian lines, and restore his communication with Suchet, he sent him with orders to the latter to co-operate with him in the attack he designed to make on the enemy. To fulfill his mission, Oudinot was compelled to pass by night, in an open boat, through the entire English fleet: after incredible toil, he reached the headquarters of Suchet in safety.
    When Napoleon became Emperor, he made him Count of the Empire, and gave him command of a corps of grenadiers. He was just the man to be at the head of those stern warriors, and he made wild work with them in the campaign of Austerlitz.
    After the capitulation of Ulm, Napoleon marched on Vienna. As he approached the city, he was anxious to get possession of a bridge across the Danube, which led from it to the northern provinces of the Empire, in order to cut off the communication of the enemy, and sent forward a part of his troops for that purpose. Just as day began to dawn on the 13th of November, a brigade of cavalry entered the capital, followed by General Belliard, Murat, Lannes, and Oudinot, with the grenadiers of the latter. Traversing the city, they marched straight for the wooden bridge (Tabor) on the farther side. But the Austrians were prepared for them, and an advanced guard held the farther bank while the combustibles were laid—the matches and all ready, to wrap the whole structure in flames. Added to this, a powerful battery was stationed so as to sweep the entire passage. A word, a touch, and that bridge would be a mass of flame, and every foot of its surface scourged by grapeshot and cannon-balls. To undertake to carry it by storm would ensure its destruction, and so resort was had to stratagem. These generals, on foot, advanced carelessly toward the entrance, at the head of their troops, their hands behind their backs, and surrounded by a multitude of stragglers, as if they were strolling about merely to gratify their curiosity. Sauntering along, they began to cross the bridge, and called out to the officers on the farther side not to fire, as "an armistice was concluded." Deceived by their friendly manner and the peaceful appearance of the soldiers, who, though in column, had their muskets slung on their shoulders as if war was over, the Austrians advanced to meet them, and began to converse about the armistice. In the mean time, the grenadiers gradually worked themselves over the bridge: but at length the Austrian officer in command, observing their movements, and seeing them already beginning to quicken their pace, became alarmed. The troops still advancing, contrary to his request, he shouted for his men to fire. The gunners instantly stood to their pieces, the lighted matches were uplifted, and the next moment, apparently, must witness the bold column, officers and all, swept to one wild death together. In this terrible crisis, Lannes and Oudinot rushed forward, the former, exclaiming in a loud voice, "What are you about? do you not see? The gunners hesitated a moment in doubt; but one, more self-possessed than the others, was just bringing his match to his gun, which would have been the signal of a general discharge, when Oudinot sprang upon him and, snatched the descending match from his hand. In an instant the grenadiers rushed forward and seized the guns, followed by the intrepid column, which threw the combustibles into the river. Then, pouring back, they took the batteries they had passed so quietly a few moments previous, before the artillerymen could recover their surprise.
    Soon after, while pursuing the Russians, Oudinot and Murat, and Lannes together, maintained a terrible combat with them at Grund. The grenadiers of the former moved again and again in solid column into the most destructive fire, and finally, breaking over every obstacle, rushed in resistless strength and with loud cries through the street. Austerlitz followed, and the campaigns of 1807, through all of which he still maintained his character as a brave and skillful general.
    After the battle of Eylau, Napoleon, in one of his bulletins, speaking of an attack made on the enemy by him, calls him "the intrepid General Oudinot." Soon after he was taken sick, and remained for a time inactive; but he was able, with his brave grenadiers, to succor Lefebvre, as he was hard pressed by the enemy, at the siege of Dantzic.
    He fought bravely at Heilsberg, and in the battle of Friedland, that followed soon after, commanded under Lannes, and had an aid-de-camp killed by his side. But in 1809, at Wagram, he excelled all his former exploits. In the previous battle of Aspern he arrested the attention of the Emperor by the manner in which he carried his division into action, and by the terrible impetuosity with which be tore through the hostile ranks; and he placed him beside Lannes in that last decisive attack on the Austrian center. He marched beside that unfortunate chief into the enemy's batteries, and put forth almost superhuman exertions to deploy his men, so as to return the fire that devoured his column. In the retreat he struggled heroically with Massena and Lannes to steady the wavering current that was setting so wildly on the Danube; and on the death of the latter received the command of the second corps.
    At the battle of Wagram he was placed in the center, and was directed to carry the village of Wagram. Bernadotte was to support the attack, but his Saxon troops turned and fled, and the whole weight of the conflict fell upon him alone, and right nobly did he sustain it; and on that day of great deeds was outdone by none, unless it were Macdonald. Six times in one hour he carried Wagram by assault, and as often was compelled to retire before superior force; but at length, at noon, swept it for the last time with his battalions, and held it. Unshrinking and undaunted, he maintained his position amid the wreck of that battlefield with a tenacity that brought the highest encomiums from Napoleon. Conscious of the great trust committed to him, and mindful of the dead chieftain in whose footsteps he stood, his excitement was tempered by prudence, his impetuosity by forethought, and he exhibited the highest qualities of a brave and skillful commander.
    Bernadotte, in the proclamation he issued after the battle complimenting his Saxon troops on their behavior, refers to the manner with which Wagram was contested, as a proof that their ranks were like "walls of iron." Napoleon in his bulletin declares, in so many words, that the whole glory was due to Oudinot alone, and takes pains to follow his statement with the very significant sentence: "Bernadotte has gone to the springs for his health."
    For his valor on this occasion, Oudinot received the long expected marshal's baton. He deserved it, for, to use Napoleon's own expression, he had been "tried in a hundred battles, and showed equal intrepidity and wisdom." Not satisfied with creating him marshal, he also made him Duke of Reggio.
    Three years after, he commanded the second corps of the Grand Army in the invasion of Russia. This was his first campaign as marshal, and he seemed eager to distinguish himself. He delivered several battles, while other portions of the army were comparatively idle; and at length, at Polotsk, was so severely wounded in the shoulder that he was compelled to return to Wilna, and was superseded by St. Cyr. But when Napoleon began his retreat from Moscow, having recovered from his wound, he again took command of his corps, which had been joined by that of Victor at Smolensko. These two leaders, as mentioned in the sketch of Victor, were sent on to take possession of Minsk and the bridge across the Beresina, so as to protect the retreat of the enemy. [sic].
    But they had not performed their task—the bridge was broken down and destruction seemed inevitable; for a Russian army, protected by powerful batteries, lined the farther shore. Oudinot was the first to approach the river, and drew up his dispirited troops and planted his cannon on the bank. All night long his shivering battalions lined that icy stream, and daylight had hardly broke when Napoleon approached, and gazed long and anxiously on the opposite shore, dark with the masses of the enemy, and then retired to his tent to ponder on his position. It was at this juncture, that the Russian army, impelled by some unaccountable fear, began to retreat. Oudinot brought the glad tidings to the astonished Emperor. Rushing into his presence, he cried out, "Sire, the enemy has just raised his camp and quitted his position!" "It is not possible!" exclaimed Napoleon. Ney and Murat at that moment hastening in and confirming the statement, he sprang up and ran out to the bank. As he saw the long columns disappearing in the forest, a smile of exultation and delight passed over his countenance, and he exclaimed, "I have outwitted the admiral!"
    When the bridges were finished, Oudinot, as before said, and his corps were the first across, and took up their station on the farther side, to protect the passage. While Victor was so nobly covering the retreat, and stretching his little army like a protecting arm around the disordered multitude, Oudinot, on the farther side, was sternly beating back the Russians, who had now returned to the attack. With 8000 men be boldly withstood and kept at bay 27,000 of the enemy. But, in endeavoring in a close engagement to rally a legion that was giving way, he was struck by a shot and borne wounded from the field of battle. Carried to a small village several miles in advance of the army to have his wounds cared for, he supposed himself out of reach of danger. But the next day nearly six hundred Russians and Cossacks together stormed into the place, and his capture seemed inevitable. Rallying, however, seventeen men, the wounded marshal shut himself up in a wooden house, and defended it so fiercely and boldly, that the Russian soldiers were struck with astonishment and fear, and fled from the village. But, having two cannon, they planted them on a small eminence, and brought them to bear upon that wooden building. Still, Oudinot would not surrender, and though no longer able to offer any resistance, as the enemy were out of musket shot, he lay and let the cannon-balls crash through the house. At length, as if on purpose to drive him to despair, a splinter of wood, shot away by a cannon-ball, flew and struck him, wounding him again severely. Still he would not let his few remaining followers surrender, and held out, till at length, toward night, the advance guard of Napoleon arrived, and effected his deliverance.
    The cold and exposure of that terrible retreat, together with his wounds, were too much for even his iron constitution, and for some time after he reached Paris his health was feeble and languishing.
    Recovering at length, be hastened to the seat of war, to help to arrest the tide of war that was setting toward France. He fought bravely at Lutzen, and was one of the few marshals who won for Napoleon the

BATTLE OF BAUTZEN.

    The allies, a hundred and fifty or sixty thousand strong, were drawn up in a semi-circle, on the heights of the Bohemian Mountains, their lines stretching six miles across the country. Before them, in the valley, was the river Spree, with several villages along its banks. The plain on every side was thickly studded with conical hills, whose tops were black with cannon; while those villages were so many forts, from which, when necessary, the troops could retire to the semi-circular heights where the main army was posted.
    At nine o'clock on the morning of the 20th of May, Napoleon stood on a commanding eminence which overlooked the entire battlefield, and issued his orders. Nothing could exceed the excitement and magnificence of the scene that met his gaze. As far as the eye could reach was one mass of moving men—at first confused and commingled, but gradually assuming shape and regularity as the columns of infantry, the squadrons of cavalry, and the artillery fell into their appropriate places, and advanced steadily and firmly toward the Spree. The long, black lines of the columns, with the tens of thousands of bayonets glittering in the morning light above them, the splendid array and movements of the cavalry, and the constant flashes and thunder of the artillery, as it moved its way toward the river, combined to render it one of the most sublime spectacles that war ever presents. Napoleon gazed long and proudly at this scene at his feet, conscious that his touch had created it all, and by a word he would change it all.
    On swept the mighty mass, while from every cone-like hill that dotted the plain issued fire and smoke, as if a volcano were working there. Each dark summit suddenly became illuminated, while the guns, thundering at the heads of the columns below, led them steadily on to the shock. The earth groaned under that living weight, and the deep roar that rose from its bosom rolled in ominous echoes over the heights on which Napoleon stood. Far-off shouts were heard in the pauses of the thunder, and fierce squadrons were seen with glittering helmets and flashing sabres galloping through the smoke.
    Nothing could check the onward movement of that host, and by five o'clock it had passed the river at all points, and was moving darkly toward the heights beyond. The allies were steadily forced back, yet maintained, as they retired, a heavy and well-directed fire from their artillery on the heads of the pursuing columns. Only one advanced post was held, and that was a height on which the stern Blucher stood. All efforts to dislodge him were vain, and he kept the summit in a blaze with his heavy batteries.
    It was now too late to make any serious demonstrations, and the battle could not be fought till next day. Oudinot, however, who formed the right wing of the army, advanced to the foot of the Bohemian Mountains, and fell furiously on the allied left. Carrying forward his columns with his usual impetuosity, he steadily pushed the enemy before him, while through the deepening twilight the incessant flashing of his advancing guns looked like a fierce flame ascending the hill. The forests seemed inherent with light, and the dark recesses shone with the glancing of musketry as the infantry moved amid the trees, "while the Bohemian mountains [sic] rolled back the roar of the artillery."* All heedless of the approaching darkness, he continued to press on, threatening to sweep away the entire left wing of the army, when reinforcements were brought up, and he was arrested in his victorious career.
    That night the French bivouacked in squares on the bloody field they had won, and both armies sank to rest. All was silent on mountain and plain, save when the low groans and prayers that rose from the thousands that were weltering in their blood swelled and died on the breeze. The smoke of battle hung in light clouds along the heights—the stars looked tranquilly down on the slumbering hosts, and no one would have dreamed that the day had closed so wildly, but for the slain around, and the light of the burning villages, that blazed and crackled unheeded in the darkness. Innumerable watch-fires lined the hills and dotted the valley, till the flickering lights lost themselves in the distance.
    Bonaparte had sent orders to Oudinot to recommence his attack at daylight; and when the first gray streaks of morning shot along the east, the weary marshal stood in order for battle. Neither was Bonaparte idle, and all through that valley was heard the rapid reveillé and the stirring blast of the bugle, starting thousands from their slumbers who, before another night, would take their last sleep; while the furious beat of drums and the clangor of trumpets, at the foot of the Bohemian Mountains, told that Oudinot was leading his strong columns to the attack. The battle-cloud rolled over the morning sun, and in a moment the field was in an uproar. The Emperor Alexander, alarmed at the fierce irruption of Oudinot on his left, had sent such reinforcements there during the night, that the marshal found himself overwhelmed by superior numbers. He, however, bore up bravely against this superior force, and struggled nobly to make head against it. But his efforts were in vain. First checked, then forced gradually back, he however contested every inch of ground with the energy of despair. His men rushed with shouts to the charge, and threw themselves in impetuous valor upon the enemy, but the immense masses that met them steadily advanced, and before their weight and fire he was compelled to fall back, step by step, down the slope. Napoleon, who had from his eminence seen the superior numbers against which his marshal was compelled to contend, and alarmed at the success of the allies in that quarter, ordered up Macdonald with his corps to support him. The bold Scotchman marched his columns rapidly up to Oudinot, and hurled them with such strength and impetuosity on the enemy that they were driven back up the height.
    In the mean time the heavy batteries of Marmont and Bertrand were thundering on the center, and the battle raged along the whole lines. At length the sound of Ney's guns on the extreme left—the signal for a general attack—reached the ear of Napoleon, and his orders were issued like lightning. The cavalry moved straight on the center, while the Imperial Guard, in dark array, marched behind to support it. Eighty thousand men swept in one broad wave against the heights, and surging up its sides, rolled in resistless power over the summit. Ney, in the mean time, had turned the enemy's right, and settled the fate of the day.
    The allied army was forced to retreat, followed by the victorious and enthusiastic French. The spectacle the field at this moment presented to Napoleon as he stood and looked off from a commanding height, was equally sublime and thrilling with that of the day before. He had ordered the whole army to advance; and, lo! a hundred and forty thousand men moved forward at his command. There were the long black columns of the enemy retiring over the field, and around their extremities clouds of cavalry hovering in protection; while on every side, over the immense plain, were spots of flame and wreaths of smoke, where the artillery blazed incessantly on the advancing battalions. There, too, were the victorious French moving in beautiful order and stern majesty after the retreating masses; while a hundred and twenty cannon in front, clearing a terrible path for the columns, shook the earth over which they trod, and eight thousand cuirassiers, cased in shining armor, and sending back the beams of the setting sun in dazzling splendor from their helmets, swept with fierce shouts to the onset. An interminable forest of bayonets glittered over this host; while between were long moving lines of light caused by the sunbeams, flashing on steel armor and sabers and helmets. Napoleon gazed long and triumphantly on the sublime spectacle, till the lessening columns and the receding thunder of cannon hastened him forward.
    In the mean time the sun had gone down, and night, drawing her curtains over the earth, arrested the conflict, and the two tired armies again lay down to rest. But two dead armies were sleeping there also. More than thirty thousand had fallen in these two days of carnage, and men lay in heaps along the base of the heights, and were scattered thick as autumn leaves through the valley. But as the stars came out in the sky women were seen flocking over the field, and coarse-clad men treading amid the piles of human bodies, but not, as at Dresden, to plunder the dead, but to succor the dying. With hand-carts and
wheelbarrows and litters, the kind-hearted peasantry had issued forth, moved by their own sympathies, and lifting up the wounded carried them to their houses, where they bound up their wounds and allayed their sufferings.
    The next morning at daylight Napoleon renewed the pursuit, and pressed on the flying traces of the enemy with redoubled energy. All day long the fight continued, and the roads were blocked with the dead; but still the allies retained the firm order of battle. Enraged at their obstinacy, and still determined to turn that retreat into a route, he hurried to the front in person, and urged on the columns. He rode hither and thither, hastening up and concentrating his forces with amazing rapidity, and falling in terrible strength on the rear guard of the enemy. But all his efforts were vain; the disciplined bravery of the allied troops resisted every endeavor, and robbed him of half his victory.

DEATH OF DUROC.

    But his greatest misfortune, that which wounded him deepest, was the death of his friend Duroc. As he made a last effort to break the enemy's ranks, and rode again to the advanced posts to direct the movements of his army, one of his escort was struck dead by his side. Turning to Duroc, he said, "Duroc, fate is determined to have one of us to-day." Soon after, as he was riding with his suite in a rapid trot along the road, a cannon-ball smote a tree beside him, and glancing, struck General Kirgener dead, and tore out the entrails of Duroc. Napoleon was ahead at the time, and his suite, four abreast, behind him. The cloud of dust their rapid movement raised around them prevented him from knowing at first who was struck. But when it was told him that Kirgener was killed and Duroc wounded, he dismounted, and gazed long and sternly on the battery from which the shot had been fired; then turned toward the cottage into which the wounded marshal had been carried.
    Duroc was grand marshal of the palace, and a bosom friend of the Emperor. Of noble and generous character, of unshaken integrity and patriotism, and firm as steel in the hour of danger, he was beloved by all who knew him. There was a gentleness about him and a purity of feeling the life of a camp could never destroy. Napoleon loved him—for through all the changes of his tumultuous life he had ever found his affection and truth the same—and it was with anxious heart and sad countenance he entered the lowly cottage where he lay. His eyes were filled with tears, as he asked if there was hope. When told there was none, he advanced to the bedside without saying a word. The dying marshal seized him by the hand and said: "My whole life has been consecrated to your service, and now my only regret is, that I can no longer be useful to you." "Duroc!" replied Napoleon, with a voice choked with grief, "there is another life—there you will await me, and we shall meet again." "Yes, sire," replied the fainting sufferer, "but thirty years shall first pass away, when you will have triumphed over your enemies, and realized all the hopes of our country. I have endeavored to be an honest man; I have nothing with which to reproach myself." He then added, with faltering voice, "I have a daughter; your Majesty will be a father to her." Napoleon grasped his right hand, and sitting down by the bedside, and leaning his head on his left hand, remained with closed eyes, a quarter of an hour, in profound silence. Duroc first spoke. Seeing how deeply Bonaparte was moved, he exclaimed, "Ah! sire, leave me; this spectacle pains you!" The stricken Emperor rose, and, leaning on the arms of his equerry and Marshal Soult, left the apartment, saying, in heart breaking tones, as he went, "Farewell, then, my friend!"
    The hot pursuit he had directed a moment before was forgotten—victory, trophies, prisoners and all sunk into utter worthlessness, and, as at the battle of Aspern, when Lannes was brought to him mortally wounded, he forgot even his army, and the great interests at stake. He ordered his tent to be pitched near the cottage in which his friend was dying, and, entering it, passed the night all alone in inconsolable grief. The Imperial Guard formed their protecting squares, as usual, around him, and the fierce tumult of battle gave way to one of the most touching scenes in history. Twilight was deepening over the field, and the heavy tread of the ranks going to their bivouacs, the low rumbling of artillery wagons in the distance, and all the subdued yet confused sounds of a mighty host about sinking to repose, rose on the evening air, imparting still greater solemnity to the hour. Napoleon, with his gray great coat wrapped about him, his elbows on his knees, and his forehead resting on his hands, sat apart from all, buried in the profoundest melancholy. His most intimate friends dare not approach him, and his favorite officers stood in groups at a distance, gazing anxiously and sadly in that silent tent. But immense consequences were hanging on the movements of the next morning—a powerful enemy was near, with their army yet unbroken—and they at length ventured to approach and ask for orders. But the broken-hearted chieftain only shook his head, exclaiming, "Everything to-morrow!" and still kept his mournful attitude. Oh, how overwhelming was the grief that could so master that stern heart! The magnificent spectacle of the day that had passed, the glorious victory he had won, were remembered no more, and he saw only his dying friend before him. No sobs escaped him, but silent and motionless he sat, his pallid face buried in his hands, and his noble heart wrung with agony. Darkness drew her curtain over the scene, and the stars came out one after another upon the sky, and, at length, the moon rose above the hills, bathing in her soft beams the tented host, while the flames from burning villages in the distance shed a lurid light through the gloom-and all was sad, mournful, yet sublime. There was the dark cottage, with the sentinels at the door, in which Duroc lay dying, and there, too, was the solitary tent of Napoleon, and within, the bowed form of the Emperor. Around it, at a distance, stood the squares of the Old Guard, and nearer by, a silent group of chieftains, and over all lay the moonlight. Those brave soldiers, filled with grief to see their beloved chief borne down with such sorrow, stood for a long time silent and tearful. At length to break the mournful silence, and to express the sympathy they might not speak, the bands struck up a requiem for the dying marshal. The melancholy strains arose and fell in prolonged echoes over the field, and swept in softened cadences on the ear of the fainting warrior—but still Napoleon moved not. They then changed the measure to a triumphant strain, and the thrilling trumpets breathed forth their most joyful notes, till the heavens rang with the melody. Such bursts of music had welcomed Napoleon as he returned flushed with victory, till his eye kindled in exultation; but now they fell on a dull and listless ear. It ceased, and again the mournful requiem filled the air. But nothing could arouse him from his agonizing reflections—his friend lay dying, and the heart he loved more than his life was throbbing its last pulsations.
    What a theme for a painter, and what a eulogy on Napoleon, was that scene! That noble heart which the enmity of the world could not shake, nor the terrors of a battlefield move from its calm repose, nor even the hatred and insults of his, at last, victorious enemies humble, here sank in the moment of victory before the tide of affection. What military chieftain ever mourned thus on the field of victory, and what soldiers ever loved a leader so?
    The next morning, a little after sunrise, Duroc died.
    When the mournful news was brought to Napoleon, he did not utter a word, but put into the bands of Berthier a paper directing a monument to be raised on the spot where he fell, with this inscription : "Here the general Duroc, Duke of Friuli, Grand Marshal of the palace of the Emperor Napoleon, gloriously fell and died in the arms of the Emperor his friend." He left two hundred napoleons in the hands of the owner of the house and the clergyman of the parish, to defray the expenses. But the monument was never erected, for after the defeats which soon followed, the allies, with a meatiness unparalleled in the history of civilized warfare, claimed this money as a part of the spoils of war. For the paltry sum of eight hundred dollars, they could prevent a monument from being raised to genius and true worth, and insult a noble heart by denying it this last tribute of affection to a dear friend. What a contrast does this present to the conduct of Marshal Soult at Corunna, who ordered a monument to be reared to Sir John Moore on the spot where he fell. Napoleon was as much above his enemies in magnanimity as he was in genius.
    Three months subsequent to this, Oudinot was beaten in Bohemia, at Gross Beeren, by Bernadotte, after a severe struggle. The news of this defeat, coming as it did, in the midst of other losses, irritated Napoleon, who was in that critical position where he must have a succession of victories or be lost, and he unjustly ordered Ney to supersede him. The disgraced marshal, however, did not refuse to fight under Ney, who was soon after worse beaten in a similar encounter.
    In the October that followed, at Leipsic, be commanded two divisions of the Young Guard, and helped to stem the tide of that disastrous battle, till Napoleon ordered a retreat, and continued to struggle bravely for France and the empire to the last. At Brienne, Nangis, Montereau, Bar-sur-Aube, and other fields of fame, and side by side with Napoleon during all that fierce struggle to force the allies back from Paris, he exhibited his accustomed valor and patriotism.
    On the abdication of the Emperor, be gave in his adherence to Louis XVIII, by whom he was made colonel-general of the grenadiers, and governor of Metz. He adhered to the royal cause during the hundred days of Napoleon's reign, after his return from Elba. On the second restoration he was made peer of France, Minister of State and given the command of the National Guard of Paris. In 1823, he served under the Duke of Angouléme in the invasion of Spain, and was appointed governor of Madrid. In 1830, he gave in his adhesion to Louis Philippe, and four years ago was appointed by him governor of the Invalides, which office he still holds.
    Oudinot was brave even to rashness,—sudden and terrible in a charge, and a good general in the field of battle. He needed, however, the oversight of Napoleon, and erred when left to himself. He was neither avaricious nor cruel, and through a long and tempestuous life sustained the honor of the arms of France, and struggled nobly for her freedom. He was careless of his person in battle, and now bears on his body the scars of twenty wounds received in the different engagements he passed through.



1.  I will add here that it is impossible to escape repitition and confusion both, as, to illustrate each commander separately, it is necessary to describe parts of the same battle at different times. Return to paragraph text.

2.  Vide Allison.  Return to paragraph text.


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