October 28 1816: Borodino Recalled

“We returned to the box. Beyle told us that the finest hour of Napoleon’s life
was the battle of Borodino – he was sitting on the ground between two sandhills,
tapping a drumhead – every now and then they brought a word – “Such-a-one is
killed!” – “Well, go you.” – “General Caulaincourt is killed.” – “Allez-vous” –
looking about to his staff, and so on. The balls fled over the hill – this was in
battle, but he had feelings when not in the height of action. He was sorry for
those at the battle of Aspern or Wagram. Bernadotte403 sent aide-de-camp after
aide-de-camp for reinforcements, and to complain of the loss of his men. 2,000
were put out of action every half hour – at last he (Napoleon) was in the greatest
fury, and said, “Let him take the batteries, and send aide-de-camps afterwards”.
At last Bernadotte came himself, and mentioned his increasing loss. Napoleon
called him by all sorts of bad names – coward, &c., and sent him back to take the
batteries, telling him if he lost 50,000 men he must do it – which he did.404
Bernadotte always had the same manners, and did not bow down before
Napoleon, which he did not like. When Napoleon heard that Ney and his corps
were saved after having been lost for four days in the Russian campaign, he
jumped higher, Beyle says, than he ever saw a man before with joy; but still he
did not make Ney a prince till he got to Paris, when he told someone, “Dites à
Ney qu’il est Prince”.

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