Chapter 12

THE PARTY of prisoners, of whom Pierre was one, was on the 22nd of October not with the troops and transport, in whose company they had left Moscow, though no fresh instructions in regard to them had been given by the French authorities. Half of the transport with stores of biscuit, which had followed them during the early stages of the march, had been carried off by the Cossacks, the other half had got away in front. Of the cavalry soldiers on foot, who had marched in front of the prisoners, not one was left; they had all disappeared. The artillery, which the prisoners had seen in front during the early stages, was now replaced by the immense train of Marshal Junot’s baggage, convoyed by an escort of Westphalians. Behind the prisoners came a transport of cavalry accoutrements.

The French had at first marched in three columns, but from Vyazma they had formed a single mass. The symptoms of lack of discipline, which Pierre had observed at the first halt outside Moscow, had by now reached their extreme limits.

The road along which they marched was strewn on both sides with the carcases of dead horses. The tattered soldiers, stragglers from different regiments, were continually changing, joining the column as it marched, and dropping behind it again. Several times there had been false alarms, and the soldiers of the cavalry had raised their guns, and fired and fled, trampling one another underfoot. Then they had rallied again, and abused one another for their causeless panic.

These three bodies, travelling together—the cavalry transport, the convoy of prisoners, and Junot’s baggage transport—still made up a complete separate whole, though each of its three parts was rapidly dwindling away.

Of the cavalry transport, which had at first consisted of one hundred and twenty waggons, only sixty were left; the rest had been carried off or abandoned. Several waggonloads of Junot’s baggage, too, had been discarded or captured. Three waggons had been attacked and pillaged by stragglers from Davoust’s regiment. From the talk he overheard among the Germans, Pierre learned that a more careful watch was kept over this baggage-train than over the prisoners, and that one of their comrades, a German, had been shot by order of the marshal himself because a silver spoon belonging to the marshal had been found in the soldier’s possession.

The convoy of prisoners had dwindled even more than the other two convoys. Of the three hundred and thirty men who had started from Moscow there were now less than a hundred left. The prisoners were a burden even more irksome to the soldiers than the cavalry stores and Junot’s baggage. The saddles and Junot’s spoons they could understand might be of some use, but why cold and starving soldiers should stand as sentinels, keeping guard over Russians as cold and starving, who were continually dying and being left behind on the road, and whom they had orders to shoot—it was not only incomprehensible, but revolting. And the soldiers of the escort, apparently afraid in the miserable plight they were in themselves, to give way to the pity they felt for the prisoners, for fear of making their own lot harder, treated them with marked moroseness and severity.

At Dorogobuzh the soldiers of the escort had gone off to plunder their own stores, leaving the prisoners locked in a stable, and several prisoners had burrowed under the wall and run away, but they were caught by the French and shot.

The arrangement, made at the start from Moscow, that the officers among the prisoners should march separately from the common soldiers, had long since been given up. All who could walk marched together; and at the third stage Pierre had rejoined Karataev and the bow-legged, purple-grey dog, who had chosen Karataev for her master.

On the third day after leaving Moscow, Karataev had a return of the fever, which had kept him in the Moscow hospital, and as Karataev’s strength failed, Pierre held more aloof from him. Pierre could not have said why it was, but from the time Karataev fell sick, he had to make an effort to force himself to go near him. And when he did go near him and heard the subdued moans, which Karataev often

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