War and Peace

By Leo Tolstoy; Louise Maude et al. | Go to book overview
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PART TWO

1

IN October 1805 a Russian army was occupying the villages and towns of the Archduchy of Austria, and yet other regiments freshly arriving from Russia were settling near the fortress of Braunau and burdening the inhabitants on whom they were quartered. Braunau was the head-quarters of the commander-in- chief, Kutuzov.

On October 11th, 1805, one of the infantry regiments that bad just reached Braunau had halted half a mile from the town, waiting to be inspected by the commander-in-chief. Despite the un-Russian appearance of the locality and surroundings -- fruit gardens, stone fences, tiled roofs, and hills in the distance -- and despite the fact that the inhabitants (who gazed with curiosity at the soldiers) were not Russians, the regiment had just the appearance of any Russian regiment preparing for an inspection anywhere in the heart of Russia.

On the evening of the last day's march an order had been received that the commander-in-chief would inspect the regiment on the march. Though the words of the order were not clear to the regimental commander, and the question arose whether the troops were to be in marching order or not, it was decided at a consultation between the battalion commanders, to present the regiment in parade order, on the principle that it is always better to 'bow too low than not bow low enough'. So the soldiers, after a twenty-mile march, were kept mending and cleaning all night long without closing their eyes, while the adjutants and company commanders calculated and reckoned, and by morning the regiment -- instead of the straggling, disorderly crowd it had been on its last march the day before -- presented a well-ordered array of two thousand men each of whom knew his place and his duty, had every button and every strap in place, and shone with cleanliness. And not only externally was all in order, but had it pleased the commander-in-chief to look under the uniforms he would have found on every man a clean shirt, and in every knapsack, the appointed number of articles, 'awl, soap, and all', as the soldiers

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