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.

A very handsome carriage of Prince Berthier, which had just arrived and had not been used, was also burned.  At these fires, four grenadiers were stationed, who with fixed bayonet prevented any one from taking from the fire what had been ordered to be sacrificed.

The next day the carriages which had been spared were visited in order to be assured that nothing had been kept back.  I was allowed to keep only two shirts.  We slept at Wilna; but the next day very early the alarm was given that the Russians were at the gates of the town.  Men rushed in, beside themselves with terror, crying, “We are lost!” The King of Naples was quickly aroused; sprang from his bed; and the order was instantly given that the Emperor’s service should leave at once.  The confusion made by all this can be imagined.  There was no time for any arrangements; we were obliged to start without delay.  The Prince of Aremberg was put into one of the king’s carriages with what could be secured for the most pressing needs; and we had hardly left the town before we heard shouts behind us, and the thunder of cannon accompanied by rapid firing.  We had to climb a mountain of ice.  The horses were fatigued, and we made no progress.  The wagon with the treasure-chest of the army was abandoned; and a part of the money was pillaged by men who had not gone a hundred steps before they were obliged to throw it away in order to save their lives.


During the whole Russian campaign, the Emperor was nearly always badly lodged.  It was necessary, however, to accommodate himself to circumstances; though this was a somewhat difficult task to those who were accustomed to lodge in palaces.  The Emperor accepted the situation bravely, and all his followers consequently did the same.  In consequence of the system of incendiarism adopted as the policy of Russia, the wealthy part of the population withdrew into the country, abandoning to the enemy their houses already ruined.  In truth, on the whole road leading to Moscow, with the exception of a few unimportant towns, the dwellings were very wretched; and after long and fatiguing marches, we were very happy if we found even a hut at the place the Emperor indicated as headquarters.  The owners of these miserable hovels on quitting them left there sometimes two or three seats and wooden beds, in which were an abundant supply of vermin that no invasion could drive out.  The least filthy place was chosen, which was usually the most airy; and we knew when the cold came, icy breezes would not fail us.  When the location had been chosen, and we decided to halt there, a carpet was spread on the ground, the Emperor’s iron bedstead set up, and a dressing-case containing everything necessary in a bedroom placed open on a small table.  This case also contained a breakfast service for several persons, which luxury was displayed when the Emperor entertained his marshals.  It was necessary, at

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