With Napoleon in Russia

With Napoleon in Russia: The Illustrated Memoirs of Faber Du Faur, 1812

[The image on my homepage comes from Faber du Faur’s sketchbook. It travelled with him all the way to Moscow and back.]

In this excerpt Faber du Faur describes the fighting around Smolensk as Napoleon’s Army advances on Moscow, and the tenacity of some of the Russian defenders:FduF

On the 18th [August 1812] our efforts to flush the Russians out from the gardens and from out behind the willows on the banks of the Dnepr had been unsuccessful. They maintained a well nourished fire throughout the day, targeting our infantry in the houses on the left bank and causing casualties among our artillery positioned below the walls of the town. Amongst the enemy sharpshooters there was one in particular who distinguished himself by his bravery and perseverance. We singled him out, training a French gun, positioned to our left, against him and attempting, literally to smash the willow trees and deprive him of his cover. But we couldn’t silence the man. It was only when it grew dark that his firing ceased; we thought at first that he must have been pulled back as the Russians retreated but, as we later found, that wasn’t the reason. On the 19th as we secured the right bank and made our way to the position occupied by the Russian light infantrymen we discovered the lone Russian sharpshooter just by the aforementioned willows. He was a non-commissioned officer in a Chasseur regiment and his body was partially covered by the debris of the broken willows. He hadn’t abandoned his post, which he had so gloriously defended the day before, but had been killed by a roundshot.

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