Recollections of the Private Life of Napoleon — Complete eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 1,044 pages of information about Recollections of the Private Life of Napoleon — Complete.
of our soldiers who had been killed by Russian balls showed on their corpses deep and broad wounds, for the Russian balls were much larger than ours.  We saw a color-bearer, wrapped in his banner as a winding-sheet, who seemed to give signs of life, but he expired in the shock of being raised.  The Emperor walked on and said nothing, though many times when he passed by the most mutilated, he put his hand over his eyes to avoid the sight.  This calm lasted only a short while; for there was a place on the battlefield where French and Russians had fallen pell-mell, almost all of whom were wounded more or less grievously.  And when the Emperor heard their cries, he became enraged, and shouted at those who had charge of removing the wounded, much irritated by the slowness with which this was done.  It was difficult to prevent the horses from trampling on the corpses, so thickly did they lie.  A wounded soldier was struck by the shoe of a horse in the Emperor’s suite, and uttered a heartrending cry, upon which the Emperor quickly turned, and inquired in a most vehement manner who was the awkward person by whom the man was hurt.  He was told, thinking that it would calm his anger, that the man was nothing but a Russian.  “Russian or French,” he exclaimed, “I wish every one removed!”

Poor young fellows who were making their first campaign, being wounded to the death, lost courage, and wept like children crying for their mothers.  The terrible picture will be forever engraven on my memory.

The Emperor urgently repeated his orders for removing the wounded quickly, then turned his horse in silence, and returned to his headquarters, the evening being now far advanced.  I passed the night near him, and his sleep was much disturbed; or, rather, he did not sleep at all, and repeated over and over, restlessly turning on his pillow, “Poor Caulaincourt!  What a day!  What a day!”


As I have announced previously, I shall endeavor to record in this chapter some recollections of events personal to the Emperor which occurred during the journey between the frontiers of France and Prussia.  How sad a contrast results, alas! as we attempt to compare our journey to Moscow with that of our return.  One must have seen Napoleon at Dresden, surrounded by a court of princes and of kings, to form an idea of the highest point which human greatness can reach.  There more than ever elsewhere the Emperor was affable to all; fortune smiled upon him, and none of those who enjoyed with us the spectacle of his glory could even conceive the thought that fortune could soon prove unfaithful to him and in so striking a manner.  I remember, among other particulars of our stay at Dresden, a speech I heard the Emperor make to Marshal Berthier, whom he had summoned at a very early hour.  When the marshal arrived, Napoleon had not yet risen, but I received orders to bring him in at once; so that while dressing the Emperor, I heard between him and his major-general a conversation of which I wish I could remember the whole, but at least I am sure of repeating correctly one thought which struck me.  The Emperor said in nearly these words:—­

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Recollections of the Private Life of Napoleon — Complete from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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