Lieutenant Louis Planat de la Faye was an ADC to General Lariboisière who was in command of the French artillery. He describes his experience during the battle including a very personal problem and the fierce conditions at the Great Redoubt.
“At Dorogobuzh I had again been smitten with the diarrhea which had afflicted me so badly at Smolensk, and in the course of this day I went through the worst sort of agony one can imagine, because I did not want either to quit my post or dismount. I dare not describe just how I managed to dispose of what was tormenting me, but in the process I lost two handkerchiefs which I threw as discreetly as I could into the trench of the fortifications we passed. This was a serious loss in a country devoid of washerwomen, at least for us.”
“…The struggle which developed [Russian attempts to recapture the Great Redoubt] was one of the most murderous I have ever seen. Leipzig [October 1813] is the only battle I can compare it to. The cannon-balls and shells rained down like haill, and the smoke was so thick that only at rare intervals could one make out the enemy masses. The Westphalian corps [the 8th, under Junot] was massed in close columns behind the redoubt, and now and then was a target for shells which sent shakos and bayonets flying. Each time one of these shots landed, the poor soldiers fell flat on their faces. Not all of them stood up again.”
1812: Napoleon’s Defeat in Russia, by Antony Brett-James, p. 128