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Roland bowed to Sir John, and returned to his two


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" In caRe anything should happen to you, have you any
particular commands for us ] " asked one of them.

" Only one."

"What is it 1"

" You are not to oppose Lord Tanlay in anything that
he shall decide concerning my body and my funeral ; for
the rest, there is in my left hand a note which is destined
for him in case I should be killed without having time to
utter a few words. You will open my hand and give the
note to him."

"Is that all] ^

"That is all."

" The pistols are loaded."

« Very well ; tell Lord Taulay."

One of the young men went towards Sir John. The
other one measured out five paces.

Eoland saw that the distance was greater than he had
thought. " I beg your pardon," he exclaimed, " I said
three paces."

"Five," replied the oflScer who was measuring the

" Not at all, ray dear sir ; you are wrong." He turned
towards Sir John, and his second looked at them

"Three paces will do very well," said Sir John^

There was nothing to be said, since the two adversaries
were of the same opinion. They reduced the five paces
to three. Then they placed upon the earth two swords,
to mark the limits. Sir John and Roland drew near each
other until their feet touched the edges of the swords.
Then they were each given a loaded pistol. They
bowed to each other, to signify that they were ready.
The seconds moved away. They were to clap their hands


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three times. At the first clap the adversaries were to aim
their pistols, at the second they were to make ready,
and at the third they were to fire.

The three blows with the hands sounded forth at equal
distances, from the midst of the deepest silence. It
seemed as if the wind itself kept quiet, and as if the
leaves were mute. The duellists were calm, but a percep-
tible anguish was painted upon the faces of the two sec-
onds. At the third stroke the two reports sounded so
simultaneously that there seemed to be only one. But to
the great astonishment of the two seconds, the two duel-
lists remained standing. At the moment of firing, Roland
had turned his pistol towards the ground ; Lord Tanlay
had raised his and cut off a branch behind Roland, three
feet above his head. Each of the two duellists was evi-
dently astonished at one fact, and that was to be still alive
after having spared his adversary.

Roland was the first to speak. " My lord," he cried,
" my sister spoke truly when she told me that you were
the most generous man in the world." And throwing
down his pistol he held out his arms to Sir John.

Sir John threw himself into them. **Ah, I under-
stand," he said ; " you wished to die this time, also ; but
happily God has not permitted me to be your murderer."

The two seconds approached. "What is the matter?"
they asked.

" Nothing," said Roland, "except that, having decided
to die, I wished to die by the hand of a man whom I
love better than any one in the world. Unfortunately, as
you have seen, he preferred to die himself rather than to
kill me. — Well," he added in a low tone, " I see that it
is a task which must be reserved for the Austrians." Then
throwing himself once more into Lord Tanlay's arms, and
shaking hands with his two friends, he said : " Excuse me.


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gentlemen, but the First Consul is about to fight a great
battle in Italy, and I have no time to lose if I wish to be

Leaving Sir John to give to the officers any expla-
nations which they should care to ask of him, Koland
wont back to the road, leaped upon his horse, and re-
turned to Paris at a gallop. Still possessed by this fatal
mania for death, we have heard what was his last hope
of finding it.


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However, the French army had continued its inarch, and
on the 2d of June had entered Milan. It met with little
resistance there. The fortress of Milan had been block-
aded; Murat, sent to Plaisance, had taken it without
striking a blow ; and, finally, Lannes had beaten General
Ott at Moutebello. Thus placed, they had gained the rear
of the Austrian army unobserved.

On the night of the 8th of June a messenger came
from Murat, who, as we have just said, occupied Plaisance.
Murat had intercepted a despatch from General M61as, and
had sent it to the First Consul. This despatch announced
the capitulation of Genoa, Mass^na, after having eaten
horses, dogs, cats, and rats, had been forced to yield,
Melas treated the reserve army with the deepest disdain.
He spoke of Bonaparte's presence in Italy as being a
fable, and said he knew from certain information that the
First Consul was still in Paris, This was news which
must be immediately communicated to Bonaparte, since
the capitulation of Genoa brought it within the list of
bad news. Consequently Bourrienne awoke the General
at three o'clock in the morning, and translated the despatch
to him.

Bonaparte's first remark was : ** Bourrienne, you do not
understand German."

But Bourrienne began the translation again, word for
word. After the second reading the General rose, had


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everybody waked, gave his orders, and then went to bed
and to sleep again.

That very day, leaving Milan, Bonaparte established
his headquarters at Stradella, remained there until the
12th of June, started again on the 13th, and march-
ing upon Scrivia, crossed Montebello, where he saw the
battlefield, still bleeding and torn with Lannes's victory.
Traces of blood were everywhere. The church was full
of dead and wounded.

"There has been warm work here,'* said the First
Consul, addressing the conqueror.

" So warm. General, that the bones of my division
cracked like hail upon the window-panes."

On the 11th of Juno, while the general was still at
Stradella, Desaix rejoined him there. Set free by the
capitulation of El-Arich, he bad arrived at Toulon on
the 6th of May, the very day that Bonaparte had left
Paris. At the foot of the St. Bernard the First Consul
had received a letter from him, asking if he should go to
Paris or rejoin the army.

** Go to Paris ! *' repeated Bonaparte ; " what an idea !
Write to him to rejoin us in Italy at headquarters,
wherever we may be."

Bourrienne wrote, and, as we have said, Desaix reached
Stradella on the 12th of June. The First Consul had two
reasons for being glad to see him. In the first place he
was a man without ambition, an intelligent officer, and a
devoted friend ; then again, Desaix had arrived in time to
replace Boudet, who had just been killed.

Eelying upon a false report which General Gardanne had
received, the First Consul believed that the enemy had
refused battle and was retiring upon Genoa, and he sent
Desaix and his division along the road to Novi to cut off
the retreat. The night of the 13th passed in perfect


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quiet. On the previous night there had been, in spite of
the terrible storm, an engagement in which the Auatrians
had been beaten. It seemed as if Nature and man were
alike resting from their labors. Bonaparte's mind was
easy. There was only a single bridge over the Bormida, and
he had been assured that this bridge was broken. Advance
posts had been placed as near as possible to Bormida, and
they were themselves watched by groups of four men.
The whole night was occupied by the enemy in crossing
the river. At two o'clock in the morning two of these
groups of four men were surprised, and seven men were
killed. The eighth escaped and ran, crying *' To arms ! "
to give the alarm to the sentinels. At the same time a
messenger was sent off in haste to the First Consul, who
was sleeping at Torre-di-Garofolo ; but while waiting for
orders, the drum beat all along the line.

One must have been present at a similar scene in order
to get an idea of the effect produced upon a sleeping army
by a drum calling the soldiers to arms at three o'clock in
the morning. It is enough to make the bravest shudder.
The soldiers had gone to sleep ready dressed. Each one
rose and seized his arms. The lines formed on the vast
plains of Marengo. The sound of the drum was heard
like a long train of powder, and in the semi-obscurity sen-
tinels could be seen running to and fro.

When day rose, the French troops occupied the fol-
lowing positions : The division of Gardanne and that of
Chamberlhac, forming the extreme advance guard, were
placed at the small country-seat of Petra-Bona, at an
angle which is formed in the road from Marengo to Tor-
tone by the Bormida as it crosses this road to empty into
the Tanaro. The corps of General Ijannes was before the
village of San Giuliano, — the same which the First Consul
had pointed out three months before to Roland, saying to

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him that in that place would be decided the destiny of
the next campaign. The ConsuFs guard was placed a
short distance behind tlie corps of General Lannes. The
cavalry brigade, under the orders of General Kellermann,
and a few squadrons of hussars and chasseurs, formed the
left wing, and filled in, on the first line, the intervals of
the divisions of Gardanne and Chamberlhac. A sccoikI
brigade of cavalry, commanded by General Champeaux,
formed on the right, and filled in on the second line the
intervals in the cavalry of General Lannes. And finally,
the twelfth regiment of hussars and the twenty-first of
chasseurs, detached by Mnrat, under General Eivaud's
command, occupied the extreme right of the general

All these made twenty-five or twenty-six thousand mer,
without counting the divisions of Monnier and Boudet,—
about ten thousand in all, — commanded by Desaix, and
separated from the main army in order to cut ofif the
retreat of the enemy on the road to Genes.

Instead of retreating, the enemy attacked. On the 13th,
during the day, M^las, who was general-in-chief of the
Austrian army, had finished uniting the troops of Gen-
erals Haddick, Kaim, and Ott, and had passed the Tauaro
and gone into camp before Alexandria with thirty-six
thousand infantry, seven thousand cavalry, and a large
number of pieces of artillery, well furnished and mounted.
At four o'clock in the morning firing began on the right,
and General Victor assigned to each one his line of

At five o'clock Bonaparte was awakened by the noise of
cannon. While he was hastily dressing himself, one of
Victor's aides-de-camp came in haste to tell him that the
enemy had passed the Bormida, and that they were fight-
ing all along the line. The First Consul ordered his
VOL. II. — 22


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borse, leaped upon it, and hastened at a gallop towards
the place where the battle had begun. From the top of a
little hill he saw the position of the two armies. The
enemy had formed in three columns. That on the left,
composed of all the cavalry and the light infantry, were
on the way towards Castel Ceriolo by the way of Salo,
while the columns on the centre and the right, keeping
close to each other, and comprising the infantry of Gen-
erals Had dick, Kaim, and O'Reilly, and the reserve gren-
adiers under the orders of General Ott, were advancing
upon the Tortone road, going up the Bormida. At their
first step beyond the river, these two latter columns had
met the troops of General Gardanne, posted, as we have
said, at the farm and on the ravine of Petra-Bona ; and it
was the sound of their artillery which had brought Bon-
aparte to the battlefield. He arrived just as Gardanne's
division, overwhelmed by the fire of this artillery, was
beginning to reply, and as General Victor was bringing
lip the Chamberlhac division to his help. Covered by
this movement, Gardanne*s troops retired in good order
and entered the village of Marengo.

The situation was a grave one. All the accustomed
combinations of the general-in-chief were overturned.
Instead of attacking as usual, with his forces massed to-
gether, he was attacked before he had had time to con-
centrate his troops. Taking advantage of the land, which
broadened before them, the Austrians ceased to march in
columns, and separated in lines parallel to those of Gen-
erals Gardanne and Chamberlhac But they were two to
one ! The first of the hostile lines was commanded by
General Haddick, the second by General M^las, and the
third by General Ott. At a short distance in front of the
Bormida there was a little brook called Fontanone. This
brook ran through a deep ravine, which formed a half


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circle around the village of Marengo and protected it.
General Victor had already seen the advantage that might
be taken of this natural intrench raent, and had used it iu
rallying the divisions of Gardanne and Chamberlhac.
Bonaparte approved of Victor's arrangements, and sent
him the order to defend Marengo to the last extremity.
He himself wanted time to think over his moves upon
this great chess-board between thia Bormida, the Font-
anone, and Marengo.

The first thing to be done was to recall Desaix's divi-
sion^ on its way, as we have said, to cut ofif the road to
Genoa. Bonapai*te sent oflF two or three aides-de-camp in
haste, ordering them not to stop until they had met
Desaix's troops. Then he waited, understanding that
there was nothing to be done except to retire in as good
order as possible until a compact mass would permit him
not only to check the retrograde movement but to make
a forward one instead. But the waiting was terrible.

After another moment, firing began again all along the
line. The Austrians had reached the border of the Font-
anone, upon whose other bank were the French. They
fired from each side of the ravine, within pistol-shot of
each other. Protected by a terrible artillery, the enemy,
superior in numbers, had only to extend their lines iii
order to overspread the French. General Rivaud, of
Gardanne's division, saw them making ready for this move-
ment. He left the village of Marengo, placed a battalion
in the open fields, and ordered them to stay there without
drawing back a step, even if they were cut to pieces.
Then, while this battalion served as a check for the enemy's
artillery, he formed his cavalry into a column^ went around
the battalion, charged upon three thousand Austrians who
were advancing at double-quick, repulsed them, and sent
them back in disorder, and although he was wounded by


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a musket shot, forced them to go behind their own Una in
order to re-form; after which he placed himself at tho
right of the battalion, which had not moved a step.

In the mean time Gardanne's division, which had been
fighting since morning, was thrown back upon Marengo^
where it was followed by the first line of the Austriaus,
which soon forced Chamberlhac's division to turn back
again and form anew behind the village. There, an a»</«-
(le-camp of the general-in-chief ordered the two divisions
to rally, and, cost what it might, to take Marengo again.
General Victor formed them once more, put himself at
their head, penetrated into the streets, which the Aufl-
trians had not had time to barricade, took the village^
lost it again, and took it once more. Then, jRually
overwhelmed by numbers, they lost it for the last

It was now eleven o'clock in the morning, and by that
time Desaix, warned by Bonaparte's aides-de-camp, was
probably marching towards the battle. However, Lannes's
division came to the help of those who were fighting ; and
these reinforcements helped Gardanne and Chamberlhao
to re-form their lines parallel with those of the enemy,
which extended beyond Marengo both at the right and the
left of the village. The Austrians were about to spread
beyond the French. Lannes, forming his centre from
Victor's divisions, extended his lines with the least
fatigued of his own troops, in order to oppose the two
Austrian wings. The two bodies, one elated by the be-
ginning of victory, the other fresh from rest, hurled them-
selves at each other furiously, and the fight, for a moment
interrupted by the double manoeuvre of the army, began
again all along the line.

After an hour's struggle, foot to foot, bayonet to
bayonet, the army corps of General Kaim turned and


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drew back. General Champeaiu, at the head of the first
aud eighth regiments of dragoons, charged against him
and increased his disorder. General Watrin, with the
sixth light infantry and the twenty-second and fortieth
line regiments, pursued them and drove them hack a short
distance beyond the brook. But the movement which he
had just made had separated him from his army corps.
The divisions in the centre were put in a bad strait by
the victory of the right wing, and Generals Champeaux
and Watrin were obliged to return and resume again the
position which they had left uncovered. Just then Keller-
mann did on the left wing what Watrin and Champeaux
had just accomplished on the right. Two charges of cav-
alry had cut through the enemy ; but beyond the first line
they had found a second, and not daring to go farther
because of the superiority of numbers, they lost the fruit
of their momentary victory.

It was noon. The French line, which was undulating
like a flaming serpent for more than a league, was broken
near the centre. This centre, drawing back, abandoned
the wings, which were forced to follow the retrograde
movement. Kellermann on the left and Watrin on the
right gave their men the order to retreat. The retreat
took place under the fire of eighty pieces of artillery,
which preceded the march of the Austrian battalions.
The ranks grew visibly thinner. One could see nothing
but wounded carried to the ambulances by their comrades,
who seldom returned. One division retreated across a
field of ripe wheat. A shell burst and sot fire to the dry
straw, and two or three thousand men were in the midst
of the blaze. The cartridges in the cartridge-boxes ex-
ploded, and the greatest disorder prevailed in the ranks.
Then Bonaparte brought up the Consul's guard. It ar-
rived in good order, spread itself out, and arrested the


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progress of the enemy, and at the same time the horse
grenadiers charged at a gallop and overthi-ew the Austrian
cavalry. In the mean time the division which had escaped
from the fire formed again, received new cartridges in place
of those that had exploded in the flames, and took their
places in line. But this movement had no other result
tlian to prevent the retreat from becoming a rout

It was two o'clock. Bonaparte watched the retreat,
seated upon a bank beside the high-road to Alexandria.
He was alone. The bridle of his horse was upon his arm,
and he was flicking little stones with the end of his rid-
ing-whip, while the bullets ploughed up the ground all
around him. He seemed indifferent to the great drama
on whose result all his hopes hung suspended. Never be-
fore had he played for such terrible stakes, — six years of
victory against the crown of Fiance I Suddenly he roused
himself from his revery. In the midst of the frightful
noise of the artillery he thought he heard the sound of a
galloping horse. He raised his head. In fact, from the
direction of Novi, a rider was approaching upon a horse
white with foam.

When the horseman was not more than fifty feet away,
Bonaparte uttered a cry. " Roland ! " he said.

The latter in return cried out : ^^ Desaix ! Desaix 1
Desaix ! "

Bonaparte opened his arms. Roland leaped from his
horse and hastened to embrace the First Consul. Bona-
parte rejoiced doubly at this arrival: first, at seeing
again a man whom he knew to be devoted to him, and
next because of the news which he bore.

" Well, and what of Desaix 1 '* asked the First Consul.

•* Desaix was scarcely a league away when one of your
aides-de-camp met him retracing his steps and marching
towards the firing. "


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" Well," said Bonaparte, "can he arrive in timet "

" Why not 1"


Eoland glanced at the battlefield and understood the
situation. In the few moments during which Bonaparte
had turned his eyes away, it had become still more seri-
ous. The first Austrian column which was going in the
direction of Castel Ceriolo, and which had not yet entered
the fight, was bordering upon the right of the French.
If it entered into line, it meant flight instead of retreat.
Desaix would arrive too late.

" Take my last two regiments of grenadiers," said Bona-
parte, " rally the consular guard, and go with them to the
extreme right. Do you understand 1 Form a square,
Roland, and stop this column as if you were a granite

Tliere was not an instant to lose. Roland leaped upon
his horse, took the two regiments of grenadiers, rallied the
consular guard, and hastened to the extreme right. When
ho was fifty feet away from the column of General Elsnitz,
he cried : " Form a square ! the First Consul is looking at
us ! " The square was formed. Each man seemed to
take root in his place.

Instead of continuing on his way to aid Generals M^Las
and Kaira, instead of scorning these nine hundred men
who were not to be feared in the rear of a victorious
army, General Elsnitz hurled himself against them. It
was a mistake, and this mistake saved the French army.
These nine hundred men were in truth the granite redoubt
which Bonaparte had intended them to be. Artillery,
musketry, and bayonets were all exhausted upon them.
They did not draw back k step.

Bonaparte was looking at them admiringly, when, turn-
ing his eyes towards the road to Novi, he saw the first of


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Desaix's bayonets approaching. Placed as he was upon
the most elevated part of the plateau, he could see what
the enemy could not. He made a sign to a group of offi-
cers who were a few feet away from him, waiting to carry
his orders. Behind these officers were two or three ser-
vants holding horses. Officers and servants advanced.
Bonaparte pointed out to one of the officers the forest of
bayonets shining in the sun.

'* Gallop towards these bayonets," he said, "and tell
them to make haste ; as for Desaix, tell him that I am
here waiting for him.''

The officer set off at a gallop. Bonaparte turned his
eyes once more to the battlefield. The retreat still con-
tinued, but General Elsnitz and his column had been ar-
rested by Roland and his nine hundred men. The granite
redoubt had turned into a volcano. Fire was darting
from its four sides.

Then addressing the three other officers, Bonaparte said :
"One of you go to the centre, the other two to tho
wings. Announce the arrival of the reserves, and say
that we shall resume the offensive."

The three officers started like three arrows sent from
the same bow, going farther and farther from each other in
proportion as they approached their respective destina-
tions. When, after following tliem with his eyes, Bona-
parte turned around again, a horseman wearing the uniform
of a general officer was not more than fifty feet away from
him. It was Desaix, — Desaix, whom he had left on
E<,7ptian soil, and who that very morning had said laugh-
ingly : " European bullets are not acquainted with me now.
Some harm will come to me."

The two friends clasped hands. Then Bonaparte pointed
towards the battlefield. The sight told more than all the
words in the world could have done.


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Of the twenty thoasand men who had begun the fight
at five o'elock in the morning, there scarcely remained, in
a radios of two leagues, nine thousand infantry, a thou-
sand cavalry, and ten pieces of artillery in condition for
battle. A quarter of the army were incapacitated, and an-
other quarter were occupied in carrying the wounded, whom
the First Consul had ordered them not to abandon. All
were retreating, with the exception of Roland and his
nine hundred men. The vast space between the Bormida
and the point which the retreat had reached was covered
with corpses of men and horses, with dismounted cannon
and broken artillery-wagons. In places columns of fiame
and smoke mounted to the sky. They were from the
burning fields of wheat. Desaix took in all the details

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