reach them, and with extraordinary correctness and rapidity, and spread imperceptibly and irresistibly, like water flowing over a valley. Had the Russian army been acting alone, without allies, possibly it would have taken a long time for this impression of mismanagement to become a general conviction. But as it was, it was so particularly pleasant and natural to ascribe the mismanagement to the senseless Germans, and all believed that there was some dangerous muddle due to a blunder on the part of the sausage- makers.
What are they stopping for? Blocked up the way, eh? Or hit upon the French at last?
No, not heard so. Thered have been firing. After hurrying us to march off, and weve marched offto stand in the middle of a field for no senseall the damned Germans making a muddle of it. The senseless devils! Id have sent them on in front. But no fear, they crowd to the rear. And now ones to stand with nothing to eat.
I say, will they be quick there?
The cavalry is blocking up the road, they say, said an officer.
Ah, these damned Germans, they dont know their own country, said another.
Which division are you? shouted an adjutant, riding up.
Then why are you here? You ought to have been in front long ago; you wont get there now before evening.
The silly fools arrangements, they dont know themselves what theyre about, said the officer, and he galloped away. Then a general trotted up, and shouted something angrily in a foreign tongue.
Ta-fa-la-fa, and no making out what hes jabbering, said a soldier, mimicking the retreating general. Id like to shoot the lot of them, the blackguards!
Our orders were to be on the spot before ten oclock, and were not halfway there. Thats a nice way of managing things! was repeated on different sides, and the feeling of energy with which the troops had started began to turn to vexation and anger against the muddled arrangements and the Germans.
The muddle originated in the fact that while the Austrian cavalry were in movement, going to the left flank, the chief authorities had come to the conclusion that our centre was too far from the right flank, and all the cavalry had received orders to cross over to the right. Several thousands of mounted troops had to cross in front of the infantry, and the infantry had to wait till they had gone by.
Ahead of the troops a dispute had arisen between the Austrian officer and the Russian general. The Russian general shouted a request that the cavalry should stop. The Austrian tried to explain that he was not responsible, but the higher authorities. The troops meanwhile stood, growing listless and dispirited. After an hours delay the troops moved on at last, and began going downhill. The fog, that overspread the hill, lay even more densely on the low ground to which the troops were descending. Ahead in the fog they heard one shot, and another, at first at random, at irregular intervals; tratta-tat, then growing more regular and frequent, and the skirmish of the little stream, the Holdbach, began.
Not having reckoned on meeting the enemy at the stream, and coming upon them unexpectedly in the fog, not hearing a word of encouragement from their commanding officers, with a general sense of being too late, and seeing nothing before or about them in the fog, the Russians fired slowly and languidly at the enemy, never receiving a command in time from the officers and adjutants, who wandered about in the fog in an unknown country, unable to find their own divisions. This was how the battle began for
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