Prince Andrew reached the general headquarters of the army at the end of June.
The first army, with which was the Emperor, occupied the fortified camp a_rissa; the second army was retreating, trying to effect a junction with th_irst one from which it was said to be cut off by large French forces.
Everyone was dissatisfied with the general course of affairs in the Russia_rmy, but no one anticipated any danger of invasion of the Russian provinces,
and no one thought the war would extend farther than the western, the Polish,
Prince Andrew found Barclay de Tolly, to whom he had been assigned, on th_ank of the Drissa. As there was not a single town or large village in th_icinity of the camp, the immense number of generals and courtier_ccompanying the army were living in the best houses of the villages on bot_ides of the river, over a radius of six miles. Barclay de Tolly was quartere_early three miles from the Emperor. He received Bolkonski stiffly and coldl_nd told him in his foreign accent that he would mention him to the Empero_or a decision as to his employment, but asked him meanwhile to remain on hi_taff. Anatole Kuragin, whom Prince Andrew had hoped to find with the army,
was not there. He had gone to Petersburg, but Prince Andrew was glad to hea_his. His mind was occupied by the interests of the center that was conductin_ gigantic war, and he was glad to be free for a while from the distractio_aused by the thought of Kuragin. During the first four days, while no dutie_ere required of him, Prince Andrew rode round the whole fortified camp and,
by the aid of his own knowledge and by talks with experts, tried to form _efinite opinion about it. But the question whether the camp was advantageou_r disadvantageous remained for him undecided. Already from his militar_xperience and what he had seen in the Austrian campaign, he had come to th_onclusion that in war the most deeply considered plans have no significanc_nd that all depends on the way unexpected movements of the enemy—that canno_e foreseen- are met, and on how and by whom the whole matter is handled. T_lear up this last point for himself, Prince Andrew, utilizing his positio_nd acquaintances, tried to fathom the character of the control of the arm_nd of the men and parties engaged in it, and he deduced for himself th_ollowing of the state of affairs.
While the Emperor had still been at Vilna, the forces had been divided int_hree armies. First, the army under Barclay de Tolly, secondly, the army unde_agration, and thirdly, the one commanded by Tormasov. The Emperor was wit_he first army, but not as commander in chief. In the orders issued it wa_tated, not that the Emperor would take command, but only that he would b_ith the army. The Emperor, moreover, had with him not a commander in chief'_taff but the imperial headquarters staff. In attendance on him was the hea_f the imperial staff, Quartermaster General Prince Volkonski, as well a_enerals, imperial aides-de-camp, diplomatic officials, and a large number o_oreigners, but not the army staff. Besides these, there were in attendance o_he Emperor without any definite appointments: Arakcheev, the ex-Minister o_ar; Count Bennigsen, the senior general in rank; the Grand Duke Tsarevic_onstantine Pavlovich; Count Rumyantsev, the Chancellor; Stein, a forme_russian minister; Armfeldt, a Swedish general; Pfuel, the chief author of th_lan of campaign; Paulucci, an adjutant general and Sardinian emigre;
Wolzogen—and many others. Though these men had no military appointment in th_rmy, their position gave them influence, and often a corps commander, or eve_he commander in chief, did not know in what capacity he was questioned b_ennigsen, the Grand Duke, Arakcheev, or Prince Volkonski, or was given thi_r that advice and did not know whether a certain order received in the for_f advice emanated from the man who gave it or from the Emperor and whether i_ad to be executed or not. But this was only the external condition; th_ssential significance of the presence of the Emperor and of all these people,
from a courtier's point of view (and in an Emperor's vicinity all becam_ourtiers), was clear to everyone. It was this: the Emperor did not assume th_itle of commander in chief, but disposed of all the armies; the men aroun_im were his assistants. Arakcheev was a faithful custodian to enforce orde_nd acted as the sovereign's bodyguard. Bennigsen was a landlord in the Viln_rovince who appeared to be doing the honors of the district, but was i_eality a good general, useful as an adviser and ready at hand to replac_arclay. The Grand Duke was there because it suited him to be. The ex-Ministe_tein was there because his advice was useful and the Emperor Alexander hel_im in high esteem personally. Armfeldt virulently hated Napoleon and was _eneral full of self-confidence, a quality that always influenced Alexander.
Paulucci was there because he was bold and decided in speech. The adjutant_eneral were there because they always accompanied the Emperor, and lastly an_hiefly Pfuel was there because he had drawn up the plan of campaign agains_apoleon and, having induced Alexander to believe in the efficacy of tha_lan, was directing the whole business of the war. With Pfuel was Wolzogen,
who expressed Pfuel's thoughts in a more comprehensible way than Pfuel himself
(who was a harsh, bookish theorist, self-confident to the point of despisin_veryone else) was able to do.
Besides these Russians and foreigners who propounded new and unexpected idea_very day—especially the foreigners, who did so with a boldness characteristi_f people employed in a country not their own—there were many secondar_ersonages accompanying the army because their principals were there.
Among the opinions and voices in this immense, restless, brilliant, and prou_phere, Prince Andrew noticed the following sharply defined subdivisions o_nd parties:
The first party consisted of Pfuel and his adherents—military theorists wh_elieved in a science of war with immutable laws—laws of oblique movements,
outflankings, and so forth. Pfuel and his adherents demanded a retirement int_he depths of the country in accordance with precise laws defined by a pseudo-
theory of war, and they saw only barbarism, ignorance, or evil intention i_very deviation from that theory. To this party belonged the foreign nobles,
Wolzogen, Wintzingerode, and others, chiefly Germans.
The second party was directly opposed to the first; one extreme, as alway_appens, was met by representatives of the other. The members of this part_ere those who had demanded an advance from Vilna into Poland and freedom fro_ll prearranged plans. Besides being advocates of bold action, this sectio_lso represented nationalism, which made them still more one-sided in th_ispute. They were Russians: Bagration, Ermolov (who was beginning to come t_he front), and others. At that time a famous joke of Ermolov's was bein_irculated, that as a great favor he had petitioned the Emperor to make him _erman. The men of that party, remembering Suvorov, said that what one had t_o was not to reason, or stick pins into maps, but to fight, beat the enemy,
keep him out of Russia, and not let the army get discouraged.
To the third party—in which the Emperor had most confidence- belonged th_ourtiers who tried to arrange compromises between the other two. The member_f this party, chiefly civilians and to whom Arakcheev belonged, thought an_aid what men who have no convictions but wish to seem to have some generall_ay. They said that undoubtedly war, particularly against such a genius a_onaparte (they called him Bonaparte now), needs most deeply devised plans an_rofound scientific knowledge and in that respect Pfuel was a genius, but a_he same time it had to be acknowledged that the theorists are often on_ided, and therefore one should not trust them absolutely, but should als_isten to what Pfuel's opponents and practical men of experience in warfar_ad to say, and then choose a middle course. They insisted on the retention o_he camp at Drissa, according to Pfuel's plan, but on changing the movement_f the other armies. Though, by this course, neither one aim nor the othe_ould be attained, yet it seemed best to the adherents of this third party.
Of a fourth opinion the most conspicuous representative was the Tsarevich, wh_ould not forget his disillusionment at Austerlitz, where he had ridden out a_he head of the Guards, in his casque and cavalry uniform as to a review,
expecting to crush the French gallantly; but unexpectedly finding himself i_he front line had narrowly escaped amid the general confusion. The men o_his party had both the quality and the defect of frankness in their opinions.
They feared Napoleon, recognized his strength and their own weakness, an_rankly said so. They said: "Nothing but sorrow, shame, and ruin will come o_ll this! We have abandoned Vilna and Vitebsk and shall abandon Drissa. Th_nly reasonable thing left to do is to conclude peace as soon as possible,
before we are turned out of Petersburg."
This view was very general in the upper army circles and found support also i_etersburg and from the chancellor, Rumyantsev, who, for other reasons o_tate, was in favor of peace.
The fifth party consisted of those who were adherents of Barclay de Tolly, no_o much as a man but as minister of war and commander in chief. "Be he what h_ay" (they always began like that), "he is an honest, practical man and w_ave nobody better. Give him real power, for war cannot be conducte_uccessfully without unity of command, and he will show what he can do, as h_id in Finland. If our army is well organized and strong and has withdrawn t_rissa without suffering any defeats, we owe this entirely to Barclay. I_arclay is now to be superseded by Bennigsen all will be lost, for Bennigse_howed his incapacity already in 1807."
The sixth party, the Bennigsenites, said, on the contrary, that at any rat_here was no one more active and experienced than Bennigsen: "and twist abou_s you may, you will have to come to Bennigsen eventually. Let the others mak_istakes now!" said they, arguing that our retirement to Drissa was a mos_hameful reverse and an unbroken series of blunders. "The more mistakes tha_re made the better. It will at any rate be understood all the sooner tha_hings cannot go on like this. What is wanted is not some Barclay or other,
but a man like Bennigsen, who made his mark in 1807, and to whom Napoleo_imself did justice—a man whose authority would be willingly recognized, an_ennigsen is the only such man."
The seventh party consisted of the sort of people who are always to be found,
especially around young sovereigns, and of whom there were particularly man_ound Alexander—generals and imperial aides-de-camp passionately devoted t_he Emperor, not merely as a monarch but as a man, adoring him sincerely an_isinterestedly, as Rostov had done in 1805, and who saw in him not only al_he virtues but all human capabilities as well. These men, though enchante_ith the sovereign for refusing the command of the army, yet blamed him fo_uch excessive modesty, and only desired and insisted that their adore_overeign should abandon his diffidence and openly announce that he woul_lace himself at the head of the army, gather round him a commander in chief'_taff, and, consulting experienced theoreticians and practical men wher_ecessary, would himself lead the troops, whose spirits would thereby b_aised to the highest pitch.
The eighth and largest group, which in its enormous numbers was to the other_s ninety-nine to one, consisted of men who desired neither peace nor war,
neither an advance nor a defensive camp at the Drissa or anywhere else,
neither Barclay nor the Emperor, neither Pfuel nor Bennigsen, but only the on_ost essential thing—as much advantage and pleasure for themselves a_ossible. In the troubled waters of conflicting and intersecting intrigue_hat eddied about the Emperor's headquarters, it was possible to succeed i_any ways unthinkable at other times. A man who simply wished to retain hi_ucrative post would today agree with Pfuel, tomorrow with his opponent, an_he day after, merely to avoid responsibility or to please the Emperor, woul_eclare that he had no opinion at all on the matter. Another who wished t_ain some advantage would attract the Emperor's attention by loudly advocatin_he very thing the Emperor had hinted at the day before, and would dispute an_hout at the council, beating his breast and challenging those who did no_gree with him to duels, thereby proving that he was prepared to sacrific_imself for the common good. A third, in the absence of opponents, between tw_ouncils would simply solicit a special gratuity for his faithful services,
well knowing that at that moment people would be too busy to refuse him. _ourth while seemingly overwhelmed with work would often come accidentall_nder the Emperor's eye. A fifth, to achieve his long-cherished aim of dinin_ith the Emperor, would stubbornly insist on the correctness or falsity o_ome newly emerging opinion and for this object would produce arguments mor_r less forcible and correct.
All the men of this party were fishing for rubles, decorations, an_romotions, and in this pursuit watched only the weathercock of imperia_avor, and directly they noticed it turning in any direction, this whole dron_opulation of the army began blowing hard that way, so that it was all th_arder for the Emperor to turn it elsewhere. Amid the uncertainties of th_osition, with the menace of serious danger giving a peculiarly threatenin_haracter to everything, amid this vortex of intrigue, egotism, conflict o_iews and feelings, and the diversity of race among these people—this eight_nd largest party of those preoccupied with personal interests imparted grea_onfusion and obscurity to the common task. Whatever question arose, a swar_f these drones, without having finished their buzzing on a previous theme,
flew over to the new one and by their hum drowned and obscured the voices o_hose who were disputing honestly.
From among all these parties, just at the time Prince Andrew reached the army,
another, a ninth party, was being formed and was beginning to raise its voice.
This was the party of the elders, reasonable men experienced and capable i_tate affairs, who, without sharing any of those conflicting opinions, wer_ble to take a detached view of what was going on at the staff at headquarter_nd to consider means of escape from this muddle, indecision, intricacy, an_eakness.
The men of this party said and thought that what was wrong resulted chiefl_rom the Emperor's presence in the army with his military court and from th_onsequent presence there of an indefinite, conditional, and unstead_luctuation of relations, which is in place at court but harmful in an army;
that a sovereign should reign but not command the army, and that the only wa_ut of the position would be for the Emperor and his court to leave the army;
that the mere presence of the Emperor paralyzed the action of fifty thousan_en required to secure his personal safety, and that the worst commander i_hief if independent would be better than the very best one trammeled by th_resence and authority of the monarch.
Just at the time Prince Andrew was living unoccupied at Drissa, Shishkov, th_ecretary of State and one of the chief representatives of this party, wrote _etter to the Emperor which Arakcheev and Balashev agreed to sign. In thi_etter, availing himself of permission given him by the Emperor to discuss th_eneral course of affairs, he respectfully suggested—on the plea that it wa_ecessary for the sovereign to arouse a warlike spirit in the people of th_apital—that the Emperor should leave the army.
That arousing of the people by their sovereign and his call to them to defen_heir country—the very incitement which was the chief cause of Russia'_riumph in so far as it was produced by the Tsar's personal presence i_oscow—was suggested to the Emperor, and accepted by him, as a pretext fo_uitting the army.