“Murat leaned towards me and whispered…”

An anecdote regarding Murat’s unfortunate tenure as commander of the Grand Armée during the disastrous retreat from Russia in 1812.

“Ready to harness, I waited, when around eight or nine o’clock I was summoned by the King of Naples. He was in a carriage; and, surprised to see in passing 16 guns in good condition on the side of the road, he asked for the commander. I explained to him my situation and the absence of orders. Murat leaned towards me and whispered to me: ‘Commander, we are f_____, mount up and get out of here.’

“And this is the head on which the Emperor, in abandoning the army, had entrusted the task of reorganizing its debris and raising its morale. I obeyed the orders of the general-in-chief; I hitched up, mounted my horse, and took the road to Kovno, still congested.”

Source: Souvenirs Militaires d’un Officier du Premier Empire (1795-1832), by Jean Nicolas Auguste Noel. Paris (Berger-Levrault & Co.), 1895, pg. 176. [Excerpt translated from the original French]

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