BOOK ELEVEN: 1812
19. CHAPTER XIX
Kutuzov's order to retreat through Moscow to the Ryazan road was
issued at night on the first of September.
The first troops started at once, and during the night they
marched slowly and steadily without hurry. At daybreak, however, those
nearing the town at the Dorogomilov bridge saw ahead of them masses of
soldiers crowding and hurrying across the bridge, ascending on the
opposite side and blocking the streets and alleys, while endless
masses of troops were bearing down on them from behind, and an
unreasoning hurry and alarm overcame them. They all rushed forward
to the bridge, onto it, and to the fords and the boats. Kutuzov
himself had driven round by side streets to the other side of Moscow.
By ten o'clock in the morning of the second of September, only the
rear guard remained in the Dorogomilov suburb, where they had ample
room. The main army was on the other side of Moscow or beyond it.
At that very time, at ten in the morning of the second of September,
Napoleon was standing among his troops on the Poklonny Hill looking at
the panorama spread out before him. From the twenty-sixth of August to
the second of September, that is from the battle of Borodino to the
entry of the French into Moscow, during the whole of that agitating,
memorable week, there had been the extraordinary autumn weather that
always comes as a surprise, when the sun hangs low and gives more heat
than in spring, when everything shines so brightly in the rare clear
atmosphere that the eyes smart, when the lungs are strengthened and
refreshed by inhaling the aromatic autumn air, when even the nights
are warm, and when in those dark warm nights, golden stars startle and
delight us continually by falling from the sky.
At ten in the morning of the second of September this weather
The brightness of the morning was magical. Moscow seen from the
Poklonny Hill lay spaciously spread out with her river, her gardens,
and her churches, and she seemed to be living her usual life, her
cupolas glittering like stars in the sunlight.