On the 2nd of October, a Cossack, Shapovalov, out scouting, shot one hare and wounded a second. Shapovalov was led on in pursuit of the game far into the forest, and came across the left flank of Murat’s army, which was encamped and quite off guard. The Cossack told his comrades with laughter the tale of how he had all but fallen into the hands of the French. The ensign, who heard the story, repeated it to his superior officer. The Cossack was sent for and questioned. The officers of the Cossacks wanted to take advantage of this to carry off some horses from the French, but one of them, who was intimate with some of the higher authorities in the army, mentioned the incident to a general on the staff. On the staff the position of late had been strained to the utmost. A few days previously, Yermolov had gone to Bennigsen and besought him to use his influence with the commander-in-chief to bring about an attack.

“If I did not know you, I should suppose you did not desire that result. I have only to advise one course for his highness to be sure to adopt the opposite one,” answered Bennigsen.

The news brought by the Cossack, confirmed by scouts, proved conclusively that the time was ripe. The strained string broke, and the wheels of the clock whirred, and the chimes began to strike. In spite of all his supposed power, his intellect, his experience, and his knowledge of men, Kutuzov, taking into consideration the note from Bennigsen, who was sending a personal report on the subject to the Tsar, the desire expressed by all the generals alike, the desire assumed by them to be the Tsar’s wish, and the news brought by the Cossack, could hold back the inevitable movement no longer, and gave orders for what he regarded as useless and mischievous—gave his assent, in fact, to the accomplished fact.

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