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Chapter 9

  • 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,
  • provinces.
  • 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.