His Majesty spent three days at Rheims in order to give his troops time to rest and recuperate before continuing this arduous campaign. They were in sore need of this; for even old soldiers would have had great difficulty in enduring such continued forced marches, which often ended only in a bloody battle; nevertheless, the greater part of the brave men who obeyed with such unwearied ardor the Emperor’s orders, and who never refused to endure any fatigue or any danger, were conscripts who had been levied in haste, and fought against the most warlike and best disciplined troops in Europe. The greater part had not had even sufficient time to learn the drill, and took their first lessons in the presence of the enemy, brave young fellows who sacrificed themselves without a murmur, and to whom the Emperor once only did injustice,—in the circumstance which I have formerly related, and in which M. Larrey played such a heroic part. It is a well-known fact that the wonderful campaign of 1814 was made almost entirely with conscripts newly levied.
During the halt of three days which we made at Rheims, the Emperor saw with intense joy, which he openly manifested, the arrival of an army corps of six thousand men, whom the brave Dutch General Janssens brought to his aid. This re-enforcement of experienced troops could not have come more opportunely. While our soldiers were taking breath before recommencing a desperate struggle, his Majesty was giving himself up to the most varied labors with his accustomed ardor. In the midst of the cares and dangers of war the Emperor neglected none of the affairs of the Empire, but worked for several hours each day with the Duke of Bassano, received couriers from Paris, dictated his replies, and fatigued his secretaries almost as much as his generals and soldiers. As for himself, he was indefatigable as of yore.