All the wounded who were able to march were already on the road to Dresden, where all necessary help awaited them. But on the field of battle were stretched more than ten thousand men, Frenchmen, Russians, Prussians, etc.,—hardly able to breathe, mutilated, and in a most pitiable condition. The unremitting labors of the kind and indefatigable Baron Larrey and the multitude of surgeons encouraged by his heroic example did not suffice even to dress their wounds. And what means could be found to remove the wounded in this desolate country, where all the villages had been sacked and burned, and where it was no longer possible to find either horses or conveyances? Must they then let all these men perish after most horrible sufferings, for lack of means to convey them to Dresden?
It was then that this population of Saxon villagers, who it might have been thought must be embittered by the horrors of war,—in seeing their dwellings burned, their fields ravaged,—furnished to the army an example of the sublime sentiments which pity can inspire in the heart of man. They perceived the cruel anxiety which M. Larrey and his companions suffered concerning the fate of so many unfortunate wounded, and immediately men, women, children, and even old men, hastily brought wheelbarrows. The wounded were lifted, and placed on these frail conveyances. Two or three persons accompanied each wheelbarrow all the way to Dresden, halting if by a cry or gesture even, the wounded indicated a desire to rest, stopping to replace the bandages which the motion had displaced, or near a spring to give them water to allay the fever which devoured them. I have never seen a more touching sight.
Baron Larrey had an animated discussion with the Emperor. Among the wounded, there were found a large number of young soldiers with two fingers of their right hand torn off; and his Majesty thought that these poor young fellows had done it purposely to keep from serving. Having said this to M. Larrey, the latter vehemently exclaimed that it was an impossibility, and that such baseness was not in keeping with the character of these brave young conscripts. As the Emperor still maintained his position, Larrey at length became so angry that he went so far as to tax the Emperor with injustice. Things were in this condition when it was positively proved that these uniform wounds came from the haste with which these young soldiers loaded and discharged their guns, not being accustomed to handling them. Whereupon his Majesty saw that M. de Larrey was right, and praised him for his firmness in maintaining what he, knew to be the truth. “You are a thoroughly good man, M. de Larrey,” said the Emperor. “I wish I could be surrounded only with men like you; but such men are very rare.”