in the position of the beginning of any event, from which we always contemplate the event. The general is always in the very middle of a changing series of events, so that he is never at any moment in a position to deliberate on all the bearings of the event that is taking place. Imperceptibly, moment by moment, an event takes shape in all its bearings, and at every moment in that uninterrupted, consecutive shaping of events the commander-in-chief is in the centre of a most complex play of intrigues, of cares, of dependence and of power, of projects, counsels, threats, and conceptions, with one thing depending on another, and is under the continual necessity of answering the immense number of mutually contradictory inquiries addressed to him.

We are, with perfect seriousness, told by those learned in military matters that Kutuzov ought to have marched his army towards the Kaluga road long before reaching Fili; that somebody did, indeed, suggest such a plan. But the commander of an army has before him, especially at a difficult moment, not one, but dozens of plans. And each of those plans, based on the rules of strategy and tactics, contradicts all the rest. The commander’s duty would, one would suppose, be merely to select one out of those plans; but even this he cannot do. Time and events will not wait. It is suggested to him, let us suppose, on the 28th to move towards the Kaluga road, but at that moment an adjutant gallops up from Miloradovitch to inquire whether to join battle at once with the French or to retire. He must be given instructions at once, at the instant. And the order to retire hinders us from turning to the Kaluga road. And then after the adjutant comes the commissariat commissioner to inquire where the stores are to be taken, and the ambulance director to ask where the wounded are to be moved to, and a courier from Petersburg with a letter from the Tsar, not admitting the possibility of abandoning Moscow, and the commander’s rival, who is trying to cut the ground from under his feet (and there are always more than one such) proposes a new project, diametrically opposed to the plan of marching upon the Kaluga road. The commander’s own energies, too, require sleep and support. And a respectable general, who has been overlooked when decorations were bestowed, presents a complaint, and the inhabitants of the district implore protection, and the officer sent to inspect the locality comes back with a report utterly unlike that of the officer sent on the same commission just previously; and a spy, and a prisoner, and a general who has made a reconnaissance, all describe the position of the enemy’s army quite differently. Persons who forget, or fail to comprehend, those inevitable conditions under which a commander has to act, present to us, for instance, the position of the troops at Fili, and assume that the commander-in-chief was quite free on the 1st of September to decide the question whether to abandon or to defend Moscow, though, with the position of the Russian army, only five versts from Moscow, there could no longer be any question on the subject. When was that question decided? At Drissa, and at Smolensk, and most palpably of all on August the 24th at Shevardino, and on the 26th at Borodino, and every day and hour and minute of the retreat from Borodino to Fili.

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