“None dared approach…”

A description of Murat at the battle of Borodino (7 September 1812), from the memoirs of General Louis-François Lejeune.


[Source: Mémoires du Général Lejeune, publié par M. Germain Bapst, Vol 2, 1896. Pages 214-215.]

I saw in the distance in front of me, on the plain, King Murat prancing in the midst of the horse skirmishers, surrounded by far fewer of his troops and much less occupied with his own cavalry than with the numerous Cossacks, who recognized him by his plume, by his bravery and his little Cossack mantle of long goat hair that he wore like them. The latter, happy as in a day of celebration, surrounded him with the hope of seizing him, and shouting: “Houra! Houra! Murat!” but none dared approach, even at lance-length, the one whose lightning-quick saber skillfully evaded danger and struck death into the hearts of the boldest. King Murat, whom I ran to warn, left the line of skirmishers to come and give his orders and support General Sorbier. The Cossacks took his movement for a flight or a retreat, and they pursued us. My horse–lighter than that of Murat, who rode a handsome fawn-colored Arab–had all four feet entangled, and was knocked down by the lashings of a piece of cannon while making a 90-degree turn at the gallop. The animal, although wounded by the shock and by the fall, rose up furiously, without unseating me, and brought me back to Sorbier, in the center of the terrible battery which began a frightful salvo of grape-shot, shells and cannonballs on the enemy line, which it took in its length and where every blow took effect. The enemy cavalry made futile attempts to destroy this line of cannons. We remained in control of the fortified position, which the Russians believed to be impregnable. I returned to the Emperor to give him these details.


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