BOOK FOURTEEN: 1812
16. CHAPTER XVI
November 9: twenty miles from Smolensk.
After staggering into Smolensk which seemed to them a promised land,
the French, searching for food, killed one another, sacked their own
stores, and when everything had been plundered fled farther.
They all went without knowing whither or why they were going.
Still less did that genius, Napoleon, know it, for no one issued any
orders to him. But still he and those about him retained their old
habits: wrote commands, letters, reports, and orders of the day;
called one another sire, mon cousin, prince d'Eckmuhl, roi de
Naples, and so on. But these orders and reports were only on paper,
nothing in them was acted upon for they could not be carried out,
and though they entitled one another Majesties, Highnesses, or
Cousins, they all felt that they were miserable wretches who had
done much evil for which they had now to pay. And though they
pretended to be concerned about the army, each was thinking only of
himself and of how to get away quickly and save himself.