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.

As for myself, during the entire campaign I did not a single time undress to retire to bed, for I never found one anywhere.  It was necessary to supply this deficiency by some means; and as it is well known that necessity is ever ready with inventions, we supplied deficiency in our furnishings in the following manner:  we had great bags of coarse cloth made, into which we entered, and thus protected, threw ourselves on a little straw, when we were fortunate enough to obtain it; and for several months I took my rest during the night in this manner, and even this I frequently could not enjoy for as many as five or six nights at a time, so exacting were the requirements of my position.

If it is remembered that all these sufferings continued in their petty details each day, and that when night came we had not even a bed on which to stretch our weary limbs, some idea may be formed of the privations we endured on this campaign.  The Emperor never uttered a word of complaint when beset by such discomforts, and his example inspired us with courage; and at last we became so accustomed to this fatiguing and wandering existence, that, in spite of the cold and privations of every sort to which we were subjected, we often jested about the dainty arrangements of our apartments.  The Emperor on the campaign was affected only by the sufferings of others, though his health was sometimes so much impaired as to cause anxiety, especially when he denied himself all rest not absolutely required; and yet I heard him constantly inquiring if there were lodgings for all, and he would not be satisfied until fully informed of every particular.

Although the Emperor nearly always had a bed, the poor quarters in which it was set up were often so filthy, that in spite of all the care taken to clean it, I more than once found on his clothing a kind of vermin very disagreeable, and very common in Russia.  We suffered more than the Emperor from this inconvenience, being deprived as we were of proper linen and other changes of clothing, since the greater part of our effects had been burned with the wagons containing them.  This extreme measure had been taken, as I have said, for good reasons, all the horses having died from cold or famine.

We were little better lodged in the palace of the Czars than on the bivouac.  For several days we had only mattresses; but as a large number of wounded officers had none, the Emperor ordered ours to be given them.  We made the sacrifice willingly, and the thought that we were assisting others more unfortunate than ourselves would have made the hardest bed endurable.  Besides, in this war we had more than one opportunity to learn how to put aside all feelings of egotism and narrow personality; and had we been guilty of such forgetfulness, the Emperor was ever ready to recall us to this plain and simple duty.


Project Gutenberg
Recollections of the Private Life of Napoleon — Complete from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
Follow Us on Facebook