While reading Paul Britten Austin’s 1812: Napoleon in Moscow, I came across an eyewitness account that is the epitome of what this blog is about. Each person who was an eyewitness to the invasion has his own story. Each had to deal with the weather, the food situation, his clothing, personal injuries or illnesses, where he would sleep, the lack of sleep and so on. Sometimes, it is easy to overlook these mundane, yet critical situations everyone had to confront while participating in the grand strategy. This blog talks very little about the big picture, but instead focuses on the human element and what it was like to be on the campaign of 1812 regardless of rank.
Without further ado, here is the account of Colonel Lubin Griois, colonel of the horse artillery, 3rd Cavalry Corps. Not all members of the Grande Armée spent the occupation inside of Moscow. Griois was southwest of the city, near Winkovo when he dropped his glove “… and neither I nor my orderly had been able to get it back out of the mud my horse’s foot had trampled it into. This loss, so light in any other circumstance, was for me a very cruel one. I would have no chance to make it good, and throughout the retreat I’d only have one glove. I remember, too, that by a sort of superstitious presentiment I regarded being unable to find this object I’d just seen fall at my horse’s feet as a nasty augury of what was to come.”
While he was digging through the mud for his lost glove, the Colonel wasn’t thinking about his command or how Napoleon’s attempts to make peace with Alexander were going – he was worried about how he was going to keep his hand warm in the coming months.
1812: Napoleon in Moscow, Paul Britten Austin, pp. 79-80.