D. H. (David Henry) Montgomery.

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Two Great Retreats of History.






D. H. M.






Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 18S9, by

in the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington.

All Rights Reserved.

Typography by J. S. Gushing & Co., Boston, U.S.A.
Presswork by Ginn & Co., Boston, U.S.A.


The two following selections contain, first, Grote's account of
the Retreat of the Ten Thousand Greeks, taken from his " History
of Greece," and, secondly, an abridgment of Count S^gur's narra-
tive of Napoleon's retreat from Russia.

Grote's History, based on Xenophon's, is given entire, with the
exception that, in a very few instances, some slight verbal change
has been made in order to better adapt the work to school use.

Two maps are furnished, an introduction is prefixed to each

selection, and all needed notes subjoined.

D. H. M.


I. Retreat of the Ten Thousand.


Sketch of Cyrus the Younger (Introductory to the Retreat of the

Ten Thousand) v

§ I. Effect of the death of Cyrus on the Greeks ; they resolve to

retreat ,. i

§ 2. Commencement of the retreat 6

§ 3. Negotiations with Tissaphernes 10

§ 4. Treachery of Tissaphernes 19

§ 5. Xenophon's dream and its results 29

§ 6. The Greeks cross the Zab 42

§ 7. The Greeks fight their way across the Karduchian Mountains 50
§ 8. March through Armenia; great suffering from cold and

hunger 60

§ 9. The Greeks come in sight of the Black Sea 70

§ 10. The Greek cities on the Black Sea; their feelings toward

the Ten Thousand 75

§11. Plans of the army for the future 79

§ 12. The Ten Thousand begin their march westward .... 82

§13. Plan of Xenophon for founding a city on the Black Sea . 88

§ 14. Xenophon defends himself against false accusations ... 95

§15. The army passes by sea to Sinope 104

§ 16. The army crosses the Bosphorus to Byzantium ; false prom-
ises of Anaxibius and their results 116

§17. Mutiny of the army in leaving Byzantium 120

§ 18. Xenophon's speech to the soldiers 123

§ 19. The army finally leaves Byzantium ; Seuthes offers to hire

them . 128

§ 20. The army enters the service of Seuthes 135

§21. Xenophon crosses over with the army to Asia 138

§22. Xenophon takes leave of the army. Conclusion .... 143


II. Napoleon's Retreat from Moscow.


Sketch of Napoleon (Introductory to the Retreat from Moscow) . 152

§ I. Description of Moscow; arrival of the Czar 157

§ 2. Alarm in Moscow at the advance of the French army ; prep-
arations for the destruction of the city 162

§ 3. Departure of the Russian governor from Moscow . . . . 168

§ 4. Napoleon^s first view of Moscow; the French enter the city 175
§ 5. Napoleon takes up his quarters in the Kremlin ; the city

discovered to be on fire 182

§ 6. The fire compels Napoleon to leave the city 190

§ 7. Napoleon returns to the Kremlin ; plunder of the city . . 195
§ 8. Rostopchin sets fire to his country-seat ; anxiety of Napo-
leon at not hearing from the Czar 201

§ 9. Napoleon determines to leave Moscow 215

§ 10. Departure from Moscow ; the first battle 224

§ II. Napoleon holds a council of war, and decides to retreat

northward 233

§ 12. Napoleon's attempt to destroy the Kremhn ; view of the

battle-field of Borodino 238

§ 13. Napoleon reaches Viazma ; battle near that place . . . 243
§ 14. Dreadful snow-storm on the 6th of November; its effect

upon the troops 247

§ 15. Defeat and entire dissolution of Prince Eugene's corps at

the passage of the Wop 253

§ 16. The Grand Army reaches Smolensk 257

§17. Napoleon leaves Smolensk ; battle of Krasnoe 263

§ 18. Napoleon reaches Dombrowna and Orcha; he holds a

council 267

§ 19. Arrival of Marshal Ney 272

§ 20. Capture of Minsk by the Russians 277

§ 21. March through the forest of Minsk ; passage of the Berezina 280

§ 22. Napoleon abandons the Grand Army, and sets out for Paris 291
§ 23. Sufferings of the Grand Army after Napoleon's departure ;

arrival at Wilna 298

§ 24. Conclusion 3°^

Index to notes and list of proper names with their pronunciation 316



1. The advance and the retreat of the Ten Thousand, facing . . i

2. The advance and the retreat of Napoleon in his Russian

campaign, facing i


(Introductory to the Retreat of the Ten Thousand Greeks.)

In the year 423 b.c. Darius Nothus ascended the throne of
Persia. That country was then the greatest empire in the world,
and had an area nearly equal to that of the United States. The
capital of this seemingly powerful realm was the ancient city of
Babylon on the lower Euphrates. Here the Great King, as he
was styled, had his principal palace, from which he issued orders
to his twenty or more satraps or governors whose provinces ex-
tended in name at least from the shores of the Mediterranean to the
banks of the Indus, and from the Persian Gulf to the Black Sea.

Darius had married his half-sister Parysatis, a high-spirited but
unscrupulous woman, by whom he had two sons, destined to be
known in history. The eldest was Artaxerxes, a youth of but
little character ; and the second, Cyrus, who inherited the decided
qualities of his mother. In order to distinguish him from Cyrus
the Great, the founder of the Persian Empire, who died more
than a hundred years earlier, he is commonly called Cyrus the

He was his mother's favorite, and as he was bom after Darius
assumed the crown, while Artaxerxes was born before that date,
Parysatis seems to have encouraged Cyrus to consider himself the
true heir to the throne, since he was in fact the king's eldest
son. Through her influence he was appointed satrap of Lydia
and the adjacent provinces of western Asia Minor when he was
but sixteen. This position, since it made him the military ruler
of that populous and wealthy section of country, was one of great
importance, and doubtless had no small influence in shaping the
young man's future career.


In 404 Cyrus was summoned from Sardis, the capital of Lydia,
to Babylon, and shortly after, his father died, leaving his crown to
Artaxerxes, who, from his remarkable memory which appears to
have been his chief characteristic, got the title of Artaxerxes
Mnemon. But Cyrus certainly was not deficient in this mental
quality, for he seems to have remembered his mother's suggestions
about his being the rightful heir to the throne so well, that at the
coronation of Artaxerxes he plotted his assassination ; or at least,
Tissaphernes, a neighboring satrap,^ accused him of it. Cyrus, who
appears to have had no adequate defence to make, was forthwith
arrested and would probably have been summarily put to death —
for in Persia the law's delays were unknown — had not Parysatis
interfered. Reahzing her son's imminent peril, she rushed forward
and, clasping him in her arms, wound her long flowing hair about
him, and pressed his neck to hers in such a way that the execu-
tioner must have beheaded her with the same stroke with which
he decapitated Cyrus.

The prayers and entreaties of Parysatis saved the young man's
life, and he was even permitted to return to Sardis and resume
his power. He went ; but with no intention of remaining in that
subordinate position. Not only was he resolved to be revenged
on Tissaphernes, but he was equally determined to overthrow the
mild Artaxerxes and convince him of the mistake of yielding to
a woman's tears.

Cyrus had learned from his residence on the Mediterranean
coast, how far superior Greek soldiers were to the troops of Persia.
The former would not only fight from patriotic motives, but what
was more, they would readily fight outside of Greece, if they were
paid well for it ; the latter would only fight when they were flogged
to it, and officers had to carry whips to drive them into battle
by the sting of the lash.

Under the pretext that he was about to engage in a local

1 Tissaphernes was a satrap of Caria, a province of Asia Minor south of


and private war with his enemy Tissaphernes, Cyrus managed to
gradually collect an army of about ten thousand Greeks whom
Klearchus, an ex-governor of Byzantium, hired for him. These ten
thousand were the real core of the expedition, though in addition
a hundred thousand Asiatics were to form the bulk of it. With
this force the young satrap believed that he could take Babylon,
and with it that title of Great King which he coveted. It was
true that Artaxerxes would meet him with an army of ten men to
his one; but, as Cyrus said, mere "numbers and noise " did not
tell on the battle-field, and " numbers and noise " were all that
the Persian sovereign had to rely on.

When all was ready, Cyrus set out from Sardis on his memorable
march in the spring of 401. Among the Greeks was a volunteer
named Xenophon, who had been persuaded to go by his friend
Proxenus, a general in the army of Cyrus. Xenophon, as we
shall see, eventually saved his countrymen from destruction, and
became not only the leader, but the historian of the expedition.

With the exception of Klearchus, none of the army seem to
have known the real object of the campaign, but supposed that
Cyrus was going to attack the Pisidians, robber tribes that inhab-
ited the mountainous country southeast of Sardis. Artaxerxes
appears to have been equally in the dark, and though he knew
C3t:us was advancing in the direction of Babylon, he thought that
his ultimate purpose was to make war on Tissaphernes, and so
gave himself no more trouble about the matter.

All went well with Cyrus and his Greek mercenaries until they
reached that city of Tarsus in Cilicia, which was later to become
famous as the birthplace of the apostle Paul. When they reached
that place, Xenophon's countrymen saw that they had been de-
ceived, and that Cyrus evidently had some greater foe in view
than the rough banditti of the Pisidian highlands. At first they
were on the point of mutinying, and of stoning Klearchus to
give proper emphasis to their feelings ; but sober second thought
showed them that it was doubtful whether they would gain any-


thing by such a course. Klearchus, who was quite equal to the
emergency, bade them reflect that they were now a long distance
from home, and that Cyrus had it in his power to make it difficult
for them to get back without his permission. Next, they were
promised a decided increase of pay if they would keep on. These
considerations so influenced the Greeks that they finally resolved
to continue their march and take the chances of war. Cyrus still
refused to divulge his real purpose; and though there cannot be
much doubt that the Ten Thousand felt pretty reasonably certain
what it was, yet they probably believed he had chances enough of
success to make it worth their while to run the risk with him.

Accordingly the army resumed their forAvard movement, follow-
ing the trend of the coast round the Gulf of Issus, and then
striking southeasterly again, until some time in the summer they
reached and crossed the Euphrates at Thapsacus. From that
point they marched down the left bank of the river, through the
hilly desert of Arabia, toward the great city of Babylon. Early
in September they reached a point on the Tigris, nearly opposite
Bagdad, and about two days' march from Kunaxa, a place not very
far northwest of the Persian capital.

Up to this time Cyrus had met with no opposition, though he
was daily expecting to see the advance-guard of his brother's
army. Before going further he thought it* prudent to hold a
grand review of his troops, which he did at midnight, as it was
now reported that Artaxerxes, with an army of over a milHon,
was coming to give him battle.

But the million did not make their appearance, and so Cyrus
decided to keep on until he should encounter them. The next
day the invading army reached a trench which had evidently been
recently dug to obstruct their advance. It stretched across the
plain between the Euphrates and the Tigris, in connection with
the ruins of the old Median Wall, built probably in the days of
Nebuchadnezzar as one of the defences of Babylon. This trench
was eighteen feet deep, thirty feet wide, and upwards of forty


miles in length ; it stopped short of the Euphrates Ijy only twenty
feet. Over that narrow strip of ground, which the Persian king
might easily have held with a small number of resolute men, the
Cyreian forces passed, with no one to hinder them. The great
trench, on which so much labor had been expended, was, there-
fore, not only useless as a defence to Artaxerxes, but it was a
positive encouragement to Cyrus and his men, for it revealed the
inefficiency and the cowardice of the Persians. The whole army
now moved rapidly forward, confident of an easy victory, many
even supposing that Artaxerxes would make no stand at all, but
abandon his capital to them. The Great King, however, was not
so hopelessly pusillanimous as that ; for, when Cyrus reached
Kunaxa, scouts brought word that the enemy's hosts were not far
behind. This time the intelligence was correct. That very after-
noon a great cloud of white dust rolled up from the plain, and as
it kept advancing the invaders caught sight of the flash of brazen
armor and a forest of spears.

When all was ready for the battle to begin, the Greeks, not
waiting to be attacked, charged on the run against the Persian left
wing. The Persians, who seem to have thought that on such an
occasion absence of body was a good deal better than presence
of mind, waited just long enough to hear the Greeks give a fierce
shout to Mars, accompanied by a significant clatter of spears and
shields. That satisfied them, and, turning like a flock of frightened
sheep, they ran for their fives.

Cyrus, who had refused to put on a helmet, now dashed into the
fight with uncovered head, making straight for King Artaxerxes,
who occupied the centre of his army. " I see the man ! " he
cried, and, hurling his lance, he struck and slightly wounded the
Great King ; but that fratricidal blow was the last, for just then a
javelin pierced Cyrus under the eye, and he fell from his horse
and was slain. His head and right hand were then cut off to serve
as a warning to traitors. The native or Asiatic troops, seeing the
disaster, fled, and did not stop till they had reached a former
camp eight miles away.


Meanwhile the victorious Ten Thousand^ knowing nothing of
what had happened to Cyrus, pursued the Persians as long as light
lasted ; then when the sun had set they returned to find that their
camp had been plundered by the enemy, and that they must go
to bed supperless. It was not until sunrise of the next day
that they learned that Cyrus was dead ; that their companions in
arms had fled ; and that they were left a mere handful of men with-
out a leader, and without provisions, in the heart of the enemy's

How to retreat from such a position was the supreme question.
They could not return the way they came, for that road led them
through the desert, where it would be impossible to get food. If
they were to get back alive they must take the northern route to the
shores of the Black Sea. This would lead them through a fertile
but rough country, in which they would have to find their way as
best they could across rivers and over mountains, harassed by the
Persians in the rear, and encountering savage tribes who would dis-
pute their progress. At the shortest such a march would be about
six hundred miles even in an air line, with prospect of something
like six hundred more before they reached the Mediterranean.

After many delays, this latter course was the one they finally
resolved to take, and owing to Xenophon's courage and resolu-
tion it turned out successfully.

After eight months of wandering, hardships, and peril, they all
came in sight of the Euxine, and perhaps no shipwrecked sailors
clinging to a raft ever cried " Land ! " " Land !" with more joy
than those Greeks who had chmbed a hill-top shouted "The Sea ! "
"The Sea!"

Thanks to their own bravery, to their able leader, and finally to
Persian vacillation and cowardice, this little army had now reached
a place of safety. It was long, however, before they got back to
their native country, and when they did, they were not to arrive at
its shores asleep, on shipboard, as the much wandering and storm-
tossed Ulysses came to his beloved Ithaca.


It is doubtful, indeed, how many of them ever got back to their
Spartan or Athenian homes, for we know that most of them
could not make up their minds to live quiet lives of peace again ;
but preferred fighting in behalf of the independence of the Ionian
cities which Greece had planted on the coast of Asia Minor.

Such was the Retreat of the Ten Thousand. If we may accept
the judgment of Rollin, a once noted historian, it has never had a
parallel in history. If we consider its results, it certainly merits
all that Rollin claims for it, for it convinced the Greek people that
the apparent power of the Persian empire was utterly unreal. They
saw that, as Cyrus had said, its only strength was in " numbers and
noise." This conviction grew, and two generations after Xeno-
phon's return, it led to that grand invasion of Persia by Alexander
the Great which was to revolutionize the ancient world.

What, then, had the retreat of the Greeks accomplished ? First,
it proved that ten thousand men not afraid to die are worth more
than a million who lack that courage ; and next, though it was a
retreat, yet it suggested that advance which eventually spread the
Greek language, Greek culture and Greek civilization in countries
where they were before unknown.

D. H. M.





Longitude West

Longitude East




§ 1. Effect of the death of Cyrus on the Greeks ; they resolve

to retreat.

The first triumphant feeling of the Greek troops at
Kunaxa^ was exchanged, as soon as they learnt the death
of Cyrus, for dismay and sorrow ; accompanied by unavail-
ing repentance for the venture into which he and Klear-
chus had seduced them. Probably Klearchus himself too
repented, and with good reason, of having displayed, in his
manner of fighting the battle, so little foresight, and so
little regard either to the injunctions or to the safety of
Cyrus. Nevertheless he still maintained the tone of a
victor in the field, and after expressions of grief for the
fate of the young prince, desired Prokles and Glus to
return to Ariaeus, with the reply, that the Greeks on their
side were conquerors without any enemy remaining ; that
they were about to march onward against Artaxerxes ; and
that if Ariaeus would join them, they would place him on
the throne which had been intended for Cyrus, While
this reply was conveyed to Ariasus by his particular friend
Menon along with the messengers, the Greeks procured a
meal as well as they could, having no bread, by killing-
some of the baggage animals ; and by kindling fire to cook
their meat, from the arrows, the wooden Egyptian shields
which had been thrown away on the field, and the baggage

1 Kunaxa : see Introduction.


Before any answer could be received from Ariaeus, her-
alds 1 appeared coming from Artaxerxes ; among them
being Phalinus, a Greek from Zakynthus, and the Greek
surgeon Ktesias of Knidus, who was in the service of the
Persian king. Phalinus, an officer of some military expe-
rience andln the confidence of Tissaphernes, addressed
himself to the Greek commanders ; requiring them on the
part of the King, since he was now victor and had slain
Cyrus, to surrender their arms and appeal to his mercy.
To this summons, painful in the extreme to a Grecian ear,
Klearchus replied that it was not the practice for victori-
ous men to lay down their arms. Being then called away
to examine the sacrifice^ which was going on, he left the
interview to the other officers, who met the summons of
Phalinus by an emphatic negative. " If the King thinks
himself strong enough to ask for our arms unconditionally,
let him come and try to seize them." — " The King (rejoined
Phalinus) thinks that you are in his power, being in the
midst of his territory, hemmed in by impassable rivers, and
encompassed by his innumerable subjects." — " Our arms
and our valor are all that remain to us (replied a young
Athenian) ; we shall not be fools enough to hand over to
you our only remaining treasures, but shall employ them
still to have a fight iox your treasure." But though several
spoke in this resolute tone, there were not wanting others

1 Heralds : officers who proclaimed war or peace, challenged to battle, and
were bearers of messages from the commander-in-chief or king ; here, mes-

2 Sacrifice : it was the custom of the Greeks to examine the entrails of the
animals they sacrificed, in order that from their appearance they might learn
the will of the gods; and next, that they might gain a knowledge of coming

In all important undertakings these signs were carefully consulted before
any decisive action was taken. ^


disposed to encourage a negotiation ; saying that they had
been faithful to Cyrus as long as he lived, and would now
be faithful to Artaxerxes, if he wanted their services in
Egypt or anywhere else. In the midst of this parley
Klearchus returned, and was requested by Phalinus to
return- a final answer on behalf of all. He at first asked
the advice of Phalinus himself; appealing to the common
feeling of Hellenic ^ patriotism, and anticipating, with very
little judgment, that the latter would encourage the Greeks
in holding out. " If (replied Phalinus) I saw one chance
out of ten thousand in your favor, in the event of a contest
with the King, I should advise you to refuse the surrender
of your arms. But as there is no chance of safety for you
against the King's consent, I recommend you to look out
for safety in the only quarter where it presents itself."
Sensible of the mistake which he had made in asking the
question, Klearchus rejoined — "That is your opinion:
now report our answer. We think we shall be better
friends to the King, if we are to be his friends, — or more
effective enemies, if we are to be his enemies, — with our
arms, than without them." Phalinus, in retiring, said that
the King proclaimed a truce so long as they remained in
their present position — but war, if they moved, either
onward or backward. And to this Klearchus acceded,
without declaring which he intended to do.

Shortly after the departure of Phalinus, the envoys
despatched to Ariasus returned ; communicating his reply
that the Persian grandees would never tolerate any preten-
sions on his part to the crown, and that he intended to
depart early the next morning on his return ; if the Greeks
wished to accompany him, they must join him during the

^ Hellenic: pertaining to the Hellenes, or Greeks; Grecian.


night. In the evening, Klearchus, convening the generals
and the captains, acquainted them that the morning sacri-
fice had been of a nature to forbid their marching against
the King — a prohibition, of which he now understood the
reason, from having since learnt that the King was on the
other side of the Tigris, and therefore out of their reach —
but that it was favorable for rejoining Ariseus. He gave
directions accordingly for a night-march back along the
Euphrates, to the station where they had passed the last
night but one prior to the battle. The other Grecian gen-
erals, without any formal choice of Klearchus as chief,
tacitly acquiesced in his orders, from a sense of his supe-
rior decision and experience, in an emergency when no one
knew what to propose. The night-march was successfully
accomplished, so that they joined Ariaeus at the preceding
station about midnight ; not without the alarming symptom,
however, that Miltokythes the Thracian deserted to the
King at the head of 340 of his countrymen, partly horse,
partly foot.

The first proceeding of the Grecian generals was to

Online LibraryD. H. (David Henry) MontgomeryThe two great retreats of history. 1. The retreat of the ten thousand. 2. Napoleon's retreat from Moscow → online text (page 1 of 24)