Thursday, November 29, 2012

Crossing Berezina

Berezina Crossing by an unknown artist at the scene
At dawn on the 29th, the very last rear guard of the IXth Corps made its way over the bridge, and all the combatant strength of the French Army was safely on the western bank.  Then General Eble, after delaying the inevitable order in the hope that some of the human flotsam could make good their escape, instructed his men o fire the bridges at nine o'clock.  In a trice the bridges were blocked with a screaming, writhing, fighting mass of humanity, at last aware of their peril when it was already too late.  Some unfortunates perished in the flames.  Then, with a crashing hiss and a shower of sparks the bridges collapsed into the Berezina, taking with them their pitiful loads.  The crossing of teh Berezina was over; the river was blocked with frozen corpses for weeks to come.

~D. Chandler, The Campaigns of Napoleon, p. 845

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