The king manifested the most profound indignation at the conduct of his troops. “I could never have imagined it,” said he; “I thought better of my Saxons; they are only cowards;” and his grief was so intense that the Emperor, notwithstanding the immense disadvantage which had accrued to him from the desertion of the Saxons during the battle, sought to console this excellent prince.
As his Majesty urged him to quit Leipzig in order that he might not be exposed to the dangers attending the capitulation which had now become absolutely necessary, this venerable prince replied, “No; you have already done enough, and it is carrying generosity too far to risk your person by remaining a few minutes longer in order to console us.” Whilst the King of Saxony was expressing himself thus, the sound of heavy firing of musketry was heard, and the queen and Princess Augusta joined their entreaties to those of the monarch, in their excessive fright already seeing the Emperor taken and slain by the Prussians. Some officers entered, and announced that the Prince Royal of Sweden had already forced the entrance of one of the faubourgs; that General Beningsen, General Blucher, and the Prince von Swarzenberg were entering the city on every side; and that our troops were reduced to the necessity of defending themselves from house to house, and the Emperor was himself exposed to imminent peril. As there was not a moment to lose, he consented at. last to withdraw; and the King of Saxony escorted him as far as the foot of the palace staircase, where they embraced each other for the last time.
It was exceedingly difficult to find an exit from Leipzig, as this town was surrounded on every side by the enemy. It had been proposed to the Emperor to burn the faubourgs which the heads of the columns of the allied armies had reached, in order to make his retreat more sure; but he indignantly rejected this proposal, being unwilling to leave as a last adieu to the King of Saxony his cities abandoned to the flames. After releasing him from his oath of fidelity, and exhorting him to now consider only his own interests, the Emperor left him, and directed his course to the gate of Ramstadt; but he found it so encumbered that it was an impossibility to clear a passage, and he was compelled to retrace his steps, again cross the city, and leave it through the northern gate, thus regaining the only point from which he could, as he intended, march on Erfurt; that is, from the boulevards on the west. The enemy were not yet completely masters of the town, and it was the general opinion that it could have been defended much longer if the Emperor had not feared to expose it to the horrors of a siege. The Duke of Ragusa continued to offer strong resistance in the faubourg of Halle to the repeated attacks of General Blucher; while Marshal Ney calmly saw the combined forces of General Woronzow, the Prussian corps under the orders of General Billow, and the Swedish army, break themselves to pieces against his impregnable defenses.