The Emperor went without halting as far as Strasburg; and the day after his arrival in this town, the army began to file out over the bridge of Kehl.
On the evening before this march, the Emperor had ordered the general officers to be on the banks of the Rhine on the following day, at exactly six in the morning. An hour before that set for the rendezvous, his Majesty, notwithstanding the rain which fell in torrents, went alone to the head of the bridge, to assure himself of the execution of the orders he had given, and stood exposed to this rain without moving, till the first divisions commenced to file out over the bridge. He was so drenched that the drops which fell from his clothing ran down under his horse, and there formed a little waterfall; and his cocked hat was so wet that the back of it drooped over his shoulders, like the large felt hats of the coal-burners of Paris. The generals whom he was awaiting gathered around him; and when he saw them assembled, he said, “All goes well, messieurs; this is a new step taken in the direction of our enemies; but where is Vandamme? Why is he not here? Can he be dead?” No one said a word. “Answer me, what has become of Vandamme?” General Chardon, general of the vanguard, much loved by the Emperor, replied, “I think, Sire, that General Vandamme is still asleep; we drank together last evening a dozen bottles of Rhine wine, and doubtless”—“He does very well to drink, sir; but he is wrong to sleep when I am waiting for him.” General Chardon prepared to send an aide-de-camp to his companion in arms; but the Emperor prevented him, saying, “Let Vandamme sleep; I will speak to him later.” At this moment General Vandamme appeared. “Well, here you are, sir; you seem to have forgotten the order that I gave yesterday.”—“Sire, this is the first time this has happened, and”—“And to avoid a repetition of it, you will go and fight under the banner of the King of Wurtemburg; I hope you will give them lessons in sobriety.”