BOOK TEN: 1812
32. CHAPTER XXXII
Pierre too bent his head and let his hands fall. Without further
thought as to who had taken whom prisoner, the Frenchman ran back to
the battery and Pierre ran down the slope stumbling over the dead
and wounded who, it seemed to him, caught at his feet. But before he
reached the foot of the knoll he was met by a dense crowd of Russian
soldiers who, stumbling, tripping up, and shouting, ran merrily and
wildly toward the battery. (This was the attack for which Ermolov
claimed the credit, declaring that only his courage and good luck made
such a feat possible: it was the attack in which he was said to have
thrown some St. George's Crosses he had in his pocket into the battery
for the first soldiers to take who got there.)
The French who had occupied the battery fled, and our troops
shouting "Hurrah!" pursued them so far beyond the battery that it
was difficult to call them back.
The prisoners were brought down from the battery and among them
was a wounded French general, whom the officers surrounded. Crowds
of wounded- some known to Pierre and some unknown- Russians and
French, with faces distorted by suffering, walked, crawled, and were
carried on stretchers from the battery. Pierre again went up onto
the knoll where he had spent over an hour, and of that family circle
which had received him as a member he did not find a single one. There
were many dead whom he did not know, but some he recognized. The young
officer still sat in the same way, bent double, in a pool of blood
at the edge of the earth wall. The red-faced man was still
twitching, but they did not carry him away.
Pierre ran down the slope once more.
"Now they will stop it, now they will be horrified at what they have
done!" he thought, aimlessly going toward a crowd of stretcher bearers
moving from the battlefield.
But behind the veil of smoke the sun was still high, and in front
and especially to the left, near Semenovsk, something seemed to be
seething in the smoke, and the roar of cannon and musketry did not
diminish, but even increased to desperation like a man who,
straining himself, shrieks with all his remaining strength.