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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesWar And Peace - Book Thirteen: 1812 - Chapter 5
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War And Peace - Book Thirteen: 1812 - Chapter 5 Post by :nigemizu Category :Long Stories Author :Leo Tolstoy Date :December 2010 Read :1624

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War And Peace - Book Thirteen: 1812 - Chapter 5

Next day the decrepit Kutuzov, having given orders to be called
early, said his prayers, dressed, and, with an unpleasant
consciousness of having to direct a battle he did not approve of,
got into his caleche and drove from Letashovka (a village three and
a half miles from Tarutino) to the place where the attacking columns
were to meet. He sat in the caleche, dozing and waking up by turns,
and listening for any sound of firing on the right as an indication
that the action had begun. But all was still quiet. A damp dull autumn
morning was just dawning. On approaching Tarutino Kutuzov noticed
cavalrymen leading their horses to water across the road along which
he was driving. Kutuzov looked at them searchingly, stopped his
carriage, and inquired what regiment they belonged to. They belonged
to a column that should have been far in front and in ambush long
before then. "It may be a mistake," thought the old commander in
chief. But a little further on he saw infantry regiments with their
arms piled and the soldiers, only partly dressed, eating their rye
porridge and carrying fuel. He sent for an officer. The officer
reported that no order to advance had been received.

"How! Not rec..." Kutuzov began, but checked himself immediately and
sent for a senior officer. Getting out of his caleche, he waited
with drooping head and breathing heavily, pacing silently up and down.
When Eykhen, the officer of the general staff whom he had summoned,
appeared, Kutuzov went purple in the face, not because that officer
was to blame for the mistake, but because he was an object of
sufficient importance for him to vent his wrath on. Trembling and
panting the old man fell into that state of fury in which he sometimes
used to roll on the ground, and he fell upon Eykhen, threatening him
with his hands, shouting and loading him with gross abuse. Another
man, Captain Brozin, who happened to turn up and who was not at all to
blame, suffered the same fate.

"What sort of another blackguard are you? I'll have you shot!
Scoundrels!" yelled Kutuzov in a hoarse voice, waving his arms and
reeling.

He was suffering physically. He, the commander in chief, a Serene
Highness who everybody said possessed powers such as no man had ever
had in Russia, to be placed in this position- made the laughingstock
of the whole army! "I needn't have been in such a hurry to pray
about today, or have kept awake thinking everything over all night,"
thought he to himself. "When I was a chit of an officer no one would
have dared to mock me so... and now!" He was in a state of physical
suffering as if from corporal punishment, and could not avoid
expressing it by cries of anger and distress. But his strength soon
began to fail him, and looking about him, conscious of having said
much that was amiss, he again got into his caleche and drove back in
silence.

His wrath, once expended, did not return, and blinking feebly he
listened to excuses and self-justifications (Ermolov did not come to
see him till the next day) and to the insistence of Bennigsen,
Konovnitsyn, and Toll that the movement that had miscarried should
be executed next day. And once more Kutuzov had to consent.

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Next day the troops assembled in their appointed places in theevening and advanced during the night. It was an autumn night withdark purple clouds, but no rain. The ground was damp but not muddy,and the troops advanced noiselessly, only occasionally a jingling ofthe artillery could be faintly heard. The men were forbidden to talkout loud, to smoke their pipes, or to strike a light, and they triedto prevent their horses neighing. The secrecy of the undertakingheightened its charm and they marched gaily. Some columns,supposing. they had reached their destination, halted, piled arms, andsettled down on the cold ground, but the majority
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Bennigsen's note and the Cossack's information that the left flankof the French was unguarded were merely final indications that itwas necessary to order an attack, and it was fixed for the fifth ofOctober.On the morning of the fourth of October Kutuzov signed thedispositions. Toll read them to Ermolov, asking him to attend to thefurther arrangements."All right- all right. I haven't time just now," replied Ermolov,and left the hut.The dispositions drawn up by Toll were very good. As in theAusterlitz dispositions, it was written- though not in German thistime:"The First Column will march here and here," "the Second Column willmarch there and
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