Murat Takes Cover

Often in battle, there are differing views on what actually happened.  Faber du Faur and Philippe-Paul de Ségur both described an incident involving Marshal Murat.  However, their descriptions differed.

On the Field of Borodino,
Near Semenovskii, 7 September
by Faber du Faur

First Faber du Faur who also painted the scene.  “A long and bloody struggle was waged on the heights above the ruins of Semenovskii, for possession of the redoubts. Finally, towards noon, we secured the position after a combat of mixed success in which the redoubts were stormed, lost and stormed again.  The redoubt on the right had fallen to the 25the Division as the battle raged at its fiercest.  The enemy continually fed fresh troops into the fray and managed to turn back Murat’s repeated charges.  It was during one such reverse that Murat, pursued by enemy cuirassiers, sought shelter, so as not to fall into the hands of the enemy, in the redoubt taken by the 25th Division.  Here, contrary to what Segur has written, he came upon steady troops fresh from having taken possession of the position after a bloody struggle and who were prepared to defend the place to the last.  These were the troops who would earn for their marshal the title ‘Prince of the Moskova’ [Ney] and win their general [Jean-Gabriel Marchand] the title ‘Count of the Empire.’ ”

“A vigorous fire from our light infantry, and from line infantry in their support, soon repulsed the enemy’s cavalry and assured the safety of the King.  He, Murat, threw himself upon the retreating foe with the cavalry of [General Jean-Pierre-Joseph] Bruyère and [General Étienne Marie Antoine Champion] Nansouty and, after a number of attacks, forced them back off the heights.”

So what did Ségur write?  “The enemy’s cavalry, vigorously pressing their success, surrounded Murat, who had forgotten his own safety in an attempt to rally his men.  Hands were already reaching out to seize him when he escaped by leaping into the redoubt, where he found only a few distracted soldiers, completely out of control and racing wildly around the parapet.  The only thing that prevented them from running away was the lack of an exit.”

“The presence of the King [Murat] and his shouts restored the courage of some of the men.  He seized a weapon himself, and fighting with one hand, held his plumed hat up with the other and waved it as a sign to his men who rallied to the authority of his example.  Meanwhile Ney had re-formed his divisions, stopped the Russian cuirassiers with his fire and spread disorder in their ranks.  They fell back: Murat was finally rescued, and the knoll retaken.”

Nansouty’s Cuirassiers
Attacking Squares to the left
of Semyanovskaya
by Franz Ruobaud
Part of the Borodino Panorama

“No sooner had the King got himself out of this danger than he rushed into another.  He charged the enemy with the cavalry of Bruyères and Nansouty, and by a series of stubbornly repeated attacks succeeded in breaking their line and pushing them back toward the centre, concluding within an hour the defeat of the entire left flank.”

You can see the complete Borodino Panorama by following this link.

Nansouty was wounded in the knee at Borodino.

Sources:

With Napoleon in Russia: The Illustrated Memoirs of Major Faber du Faur, 1812, Edited by Jonathan North

Napoleon’s Russian Campaign, Philippe-Paul de Ségur

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One response to “Murat Takes Cover

  1. Pingback: The Field at Borodino September 17 | Napoleon in Russia

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