step by step, incident by incident, moment by moment from a countless multitude of the most diverse circumstances, and is only conceived of in its entirety, when it is an accomplished fact, and has become the past.

At the council at Fili the accepted idea among the Russians—the course taken for granted in fact—was retreat in a direct line back, that is, along the Nizhni road. Evidence of this is that the majority of votes at the council were for adopting this course, and the commander-in-chief’s famous conversation after the council with Lansky, the head of the commissariat department, is an even more striking proof of it. Lansky submitted to the commander-in-chief that the chief supplies for the army were stored along the Oka, in the Tula and Kazan provinces, and that if they retreated along the Nizhni road, the army would be cut off from its supplies by the broad river Oka, across which transport in the early winter was impossible. This was the first proof of the necessity of departing from the course that had at first seemed the most natural one, the retreat along the Nizhni road. The army kept more to the south along the Ryazan road, closer to its supplies. Later on the inactivity of the French, who positively lost sight of the Russian army, anxiety for the defence of the Tula arsenal, and above all, the advantage of being near their supplies led the army to turn even more to the south, to the Tula road. After crossing by a forced march behind Pahra to the Tula road, the generals of the Russian army intended to remain at Podolsk, and had no idea of the Tarutino position. But an infinite number of circumstances, among them the reappearance of French troops on the scene, and plans for giving battle, and most of all, the abundance of supplies in Kaluga, led our army to turn even more to the south, and to pass from the Tula to the Kaluga road to Tarutino, a central position between their lines of communication with their supplies. Just as it is impossible to answer the question what date Moscow was abandoned, it is impossible too to say precisely when and by whom it was decided to move the army to Tarutino. It was only after the army, through the action of innumerable infinitesimally small forces, had been brought to Tarutino, that people began to protest to themselves that that was the course they had desired, and had long foreseen as the right one.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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