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The battle of Leipsic was fought on the 18th and 19th of October 1813 and from the numbers engaged was termed by the Germans the Völkerschlacht. The combined Russian, Prussian, and Austrian forces, to the num. ber of nearly a quarter of a million, encountered Napoleon's army of 160,000 men, and inflicted upon it one of the most crushing and terrible defeats on record. It is said that over 80,000 men fell, of whom about half were French, and Napoleon was forced to recross the Rhine with hardly onequarter of his troops, the rearguard of his flying army being captured by the Allies.
The following account of the Retreat from Leipsic, lately found among some family papers, and never before published, was taken down from the lips of a survivor, a young French officer, by his cousin, an English lady, Miss G., not long after the event, and is here translated into English.
It was there that French No! it is impossible to deny bravery shone in its brightest that the French soldier is a colours. You should have seen chef-d'ouvre of the art of war. these youths advancing with what precision and rapidity in cheers on the enemy's batteries drill, and what dexterity and repulsed, almost overwhelmed, skill in each man as a unit! by the heavy fire, then dash- What fire and enthusiasm in ing forward once more with assault, yet what coolness in levelled bayonets and carrying defence ! 1 them! Or, again, the formid- A most terrible sight it was able squares of infantry, posted to see the artillery fire in the before the village, awaiting streets, the hạnd-to-hand fightmotionless the charge of the ing, and the cavalry charges, masses of cavalry hurled upon made for the most part over them, the front rank forming a the still breathing bodies of bristling rampart of steel, from our unfortunate wounded, who behind which the others poured strewed the pavements of the in a hail of balls which drove town and its suburbs to the back their assailants in the number of 10,000 men, the most hopeless disorder. Noth-hospitals having hardly sufficed ing seemed to shake these for the wounded of the battle stalwart masses.
We watched of the 16th. Add to this the them literally melting under villainous joy of the canaille of the enemy's fire, dropping by Leipsic, who, barricaded in files at a time, then-as coolly in their houses, filled the winas if on parade—they dressed dows and roofs, and howled up, though they had lost quite curses and taunting adieux to half their number; and this, the flying French, and even too, without a man leaving the fired upon them. Lucky was ranks, or the line breaking it for them that there was
1 Ye larger portion of ye French army retreated on ye night of 18th October. A, C., having had nothing to eat all day, went out at night to try and find some potatoes, and, losing his regiment, was thus left in ye town.— Note by Miss G.
no time to put a worthy end imagined to have betrayed to this terrible engagement them. Brave officers ran hither by exterminating this den of and thither to cheer their men ruffians.
and rally some battalions while But these moments which we they sought to contrive longed to devote to vengeance bridge, but they soon saw that we had to give up to flight, their efforts were in vain. The and we fled from the town in baggage and artillery, thrown a state of disorder impossible into disorder, blocked the road, to describe-cavalry, infantry, while the horses, wounded and baggage, artillery, huddled to- masterless, plunged about in all gether pell-mell. But at the directions, knocking down the instant that we got free of the terrified crowd. Those who town and gained the road in dared not jump into the stream all haste, thinking ourselves at watched in gloomy silence from last safe, a terrific explosion was the banks those who chose this heard — the bridge was blown desperate alternative, and saw up!! A cry of fear and horror with dread how little trust was broke from every lip at this to be placed in it. Almost all dreadful blow. A shout im- the foot soldiers, indeed, enmediately arose that the enemy cumbered without exception by was upon our rear, and in a their knapsack and accoutremoment every man, leaving the ments, were carried away, or ranks, rushed forward to escape. stuck fast in the mud and perThe enemy, observing this dis- ished there, uttering heartorder, brought their artillery to rending cries. The mounted the front in haste, and placed men for the most part got their guns, loaded with grape, across, but many sank or were to enfilade us, at the same time struck down in the water by charging us in flank with their the fatal hail of grape-shot. light cavalry.
For officers and men alike disNo one who had not witnessed cipline no longer existed. Orit could form any conception of ders, prayers, or threats to this scene of horror. Imagine obtain a horse, or to avoid 20,000 men, stampeded, en- being crushed beneath the feet trapped ; having in front of of those riding, were alike in them a wide and deep river vain. Generosity and pity without a bridge, and at their were no more, and self-interest backs a horde of barbarians, cried aloud to each man to save who charged upon and slaugh- himself. tered them, while to right and As for me, in the midst of left a hail of bullets mowed this scene of horror, rage, terror, them down. The younger men, and hope mingled in my breast. in terror, half mad, threw them- But retaining my presence of selves upon each other, scream- mind, my state of uncertainty ing in their despair; the older soon vanished, and I pushed ones awaited death in silence, into the river with my horse or poured forth a stream of without further hesitation. A curses on their chief, whom they few steps and he was swim
AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A CHILD.
CHAPTER XXVI,—THE SHADOWS.
ALL this hilarity does not holds a victim. Amid so many, imply the total absence of sad- there is always one isolated creaness in those bright days. I ture who weeps in frozen secrecy, had lived and suffered too long while the others shout with in solitude not to have reserved laughter. The unshared gaiety a private corner for unuttered of the group is a fresh provocagriefs, into which no regard of tion of repulsion on both sides, sister or stranger could ever and not all the goodwill of penetrate. It is extraordinary maturity can serve to bridge the art with which a circle of that first sharp division of inchildren can make one chosen fancy. The heart that has been by mutual consent feel in all broken with pain in childhood things, at every moment of the is never sound again, whatever day, an intruder. The two the sequel the years may offer. elder than I were sworn friends, To escape the blighting influence the three younger likewise ; both of cynicism and harshness is as groups
united as allies. I stood much as one may hope for; but between them, an outsider. I the muffled apprehension of shared their games, it is true, ache, the rooted mistrust bred as I shared their meals; but by early injustice, can never be when they had any secrets to effaced. impart, I was left out in the I cannot now remember the cold. I daresay now, on look- cause of all those dreadful hours, ing back, that had my sullen of all those bitter, bitter tears, pride permitted a frank and nor do I desire to recall them. genial effort, I might easily But I still see myself many and enough have broken down this many a day creeping under the barrier. But I was morbidly bed that none might see sensitive, and these young bar- cry, and there sobbing as if the barians were very rough and veins of my throat should burst. hard. Not ill-natured, but most Always, I have no doubt, for some untender.
foolish or inadequate cause : a I wonder if any other child hostile look in response to some has been so ruthlessly stabbed spontaneous offer of affection, a by home glances as I. The disagreeable word when a tender tale of the Ugly Duckling is, I one trembled on my lips, some believe, as common as all the fresh proof of my isolation, a essential legends of human grief rough gesture that thrust me and human joy. My dislike of out of the home circle as an inlarge families is born of the con- truder, and a scornful laugh in viction that every large family front of me as the merry band
1 Copyright, 1898, by Dodd, Mead & Co. in the United States of America.
wandered off among the rocks humour then and now shed its and left me forlorn in the garden. smile athwart the dim bleak forA robuster and less sensitive est of emotions through which nature would have laughed down destiny bade me cut my way. all these small troubles, and have One dark moment of peculiar scampered into their midst im- bitterness now makes me smile. perious and importunate. A I record it as proof of the tiny healthier child, with sensibilities mole-hills of childhood that conless on the edge of the skin, not stitute mountains. It shows cursed with what the French the kind of booby I was, and call an ombrageux temper, would have ever been, but none the have broken through this un- less instructs upon the nature conscious hostility, and have of infant miseries. captured her place on the do
We were walking along the mestic hearth-would probably road one afternoon with Miss not have been aware of an un- Kitty. A public vehicle tore friendly atmosphere.
down the hill led by four horses, But this same morbid sensi- three white and one brown. tiveness, mark of my unblessed We were four: I the eldest, race, has been the unsleeping and my three pretty step-sisters. element of martyrdom in my Birdie shoutedwhole existence. “ Meet the “Oh, look at the three lovely world with a smile,” said a wise white horses! That's us three. and genial friend of mine, “and Angela is the brown horse.” it will give you back a smile.” I regarded this choice as a But how can onesmile with every manifest injustice. There was nerve torn in the dumb anguish no reason on earth that I should of anticipated pain and slight? be a brown horse any more than How can one smile burdened by one of my step-sisters. I was the edged sensibilities and nerv- angry
at what I ousness of sex and race, inwardly deemed a slight, and crieddistraught and forced to face “I won't be the brown horse. the world, unsupported by for- I'll be one of the white horses, tune, family, or friends, with a or else I'll go away and leave brave front? It is already much you." not to cry. But I shed all my “No, you won't, and you may tears in childhood, and left my go if you like. We don't want sadness behind me. When the
We're three nice white bigger troubles and tragedies horses.” came, as they speedily did, I Here was an instance when found sustainment and wisdom I might have laughed down the in arming myself with courage exclusiveness of these proud and gaiety, and so I faced the babies. But no. I must turn road. I had then, as ever since, back, and walk home alone, plenty of pleasure to temper un- sulky and miserable, nursing happiness, plenty of bright rays my usual feeling of being alone to guide me through the ob- in a cold universe. scurities of sentiment and suf- An hour of terrible fright fering. An unfailing beam of for all of us was the morning