BOOK TEN: 1812
21. CHAPTER XXI
Pierre stepped out of his carriage and, passing the toiling
militiamen, ascended the knoll from which, according to the doctor,
the battlefield could be seen.
It was about eleven o'clock. The sun shone somewhat to the left
and behind him and brightly lit up the enormous panorama which, rising
like an amphitheater, extended before him in the clear rarefied
From above on the left, bisecting that amphitheater, wound the
Smolensk highroad, passing through a village with a white church
some five hundred paces in front of the knoll and below it. This was
Borodino. Below the village the road crossed the river by a bridge
and, winding down and up, rose higher and higher to the village of
Valuevo visible about four miles away, where Napoleon was then
stationed. Beyond Valuevo the road disappeared into a yellowing forest
on the horizon. Far in the distance in that birch and fir forest to
the right of the road, the cross and belfry of the Kolocha Monastery
gleamed in the sun. Here and there over the whole of that blue
expanse, to right and left of the forest and the road, smoking
campfires could be seen and indefinite masses of troops- ours and
the enemy's. The ground to the right- along the course of the
Kolocha and Moskva rivers- was broken and hilly. Between the hollows
the villages of Bezubova and Zakharino showed in the distance. On
the left the ground was more level; there were fields of grain, and
the smoking ruins of Semenovsk, which had been burned down, could be
All that Pierre saw was so indefinite that neither the left nor
the right side of the field fully satisfied his expectations.
Nowhere could he see the battlefield he had expected to find, but only
fields, meadows, troops, woods, the smoke of campfires, villages,
mounds, and streams; and try as he would he could descry no military
"position" in this place which teemed with life, nor could he even
distinguish our troops from the enemy's.
"I must ask someone who knows," he thought, and addressed an officer
who was looking with curiosity at his huge unmilitary figure.
"May I ask you," said Pierre, "what village that is in front?"