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of a square. For six hours they maintained that unequal combat, when Napoleon arrived with succor on a neighboring hill. As he looked down on Mount Tabor, he could see nothing but a countless multitude covering the summit of the hill, and swaying and tossing amid the smoke that curtained them in. It was only by the steady vollies and simultaneous flashes of musketry, that he could distinguish where his own brave soldiers maintained their ground. The shot of a solitary twelve pounder, which he fired toward the mountain, first announced to his exhausted countrymen that relief was at hand. The ranks then, for the first time, ceased acting on the defensive, and extending themselves charged bayonet. It was against such terrible odds Murat loved to fight, and in this engagement he outdid himself. He regarded it the greatest battle he ever fought. Once he was nearly alone in the centre of a large body of Turkish cavalry. All around, nothing was visible but a mass of turbaned heads and flashing scimetars, except in the centre, where was seen a single white plume tossing like a rent banner over the throng. For a while the battle thickened where it stooped and rose, as Murat's strong war-horse reared and plunged amid the sabre strokes that fell like lightning on every side,-and then the multitude surged back, as a single rider burst through covered with his own blood and those of his foes, and his arm red to the elbow that grasped his dripping sword. His steed staggered under him and seemed ready to fall, while the blood poured in streams from his sides. But Murat’s eye seemed to burn with four-fold lustre, and with a shout, those who surrounded him never forgot to their latest day, he wheeled his exhausted steed on the foe, and at the head of a body of his own cavalry trampled everything down that opposed his progress. Speaking of this terrible fight, Murat said that in the hottest of it he thought of Christ, and his transfiguration on that same spot nearly two thousand years before, and it gave him ten-fold courage and strength. Covered with wounds, he was promoted in rank on the .. This single fact throws a flood of light on Murat's character, and shows what visions of glory often rose before him in battle, giving to his whole movement and aspect, a greatness and dignity that could not be assumed. None could appreciate this chivalrous bearing of Murat more than the wild
Cossacks. In the memorable Russian campaign, he was called from his throne at Naples to take command of the cavalry, and performed prodigies of valor in that disastrous war. When the steeples and towers of Moscow at length rose on the sight, Mirai, looking at his soiled and battle-worn garments, declared them un
becoming so great an occasion as the
triumphal entrance into the Russian capital, and retired and dressed himself in his most magnificent costume, and thus appareled, rode at the head of his squadrons into the deserted city. The Cossacks had never seen a man that would compare with Murat in the splendor of his garb, the beauty of his horsemanship, and, more than all, in his incredible daring in battle. Those wild children of the desert would often stop, amazed, and gaze in silent admiration, as they saw him dash, single-handed, into the thickest of their ranks, and scatter a score of their most renowned warriors from his path, as if he were a bolt from heaven. His effect upon these children of nature, and the prodigies he wrought among them, seem to belong to the age of romance rather than to our practical times. They never saw him on his magnificent steed, sweeping to the charge, his tall white plume streaming behind him, without sending up a shout of admiration before they closed in conflict. In approaching Moscow, Murat, with a few troops, had left Gjatz somewhat in advance of the grand army, and finding himself constantly annoyed by the hories of Cossacks that hovered around him, now wheeling away in the distance, and now dashing up to his columns, compelling them to deploy, lost all patience, and obeying one of those chivalric impulses that so often hurled him into the most desperate straits, put spurs to his horse, and galloping all alone up to the astonished squadrons, halted right in front of them, and cried out in a tone of command, “Clear the way, reptiles " Awed by his manner and voice, they immediately dispersed. During the armistice, while the Russians were evacuating Moscow, these sons of the wilderness flocked by thousands around him. As they saw him reining his high-spirited steed towards them, they sent up a shout of applause, and rushed forward to gaze on one they had seen carrying such terrors through their ranks. They called him their “ hetman,”—the highest honor they could confer on him—and kept up an incessant jargon as they examined him and his richly caparisoned horse. They would now point to his steed— now to his costume, and then to his white plume, while they fairly recoiled before his piercing glance. Murat was so much pleased by the homage of these simple-hearted warriors, that he distributed among them all the money he had, and all he could borrow from the officers about him, and finally his watch, and then the watches of his friends. He had made many presents to them before; for often, in battle, he would select out the most distinguished Cossack warrior, and plunging directly into the midst of the enemy, engage him single-handed, and take him prisoner, and afterwards dismiss him with a gold chain about his neck or some other rich ornament attached to his person. We said, also, he was a good general, though we know this is often disputed. Nothing is more common than the belief that an impulsive, headlong man cannot be clear-headed, while history proves that few others ever accomplish anything. From Alexander down to Bonao your impetuous beings have always ad the grandest plans, and executed them. Yet, men will retain their prejudices, and you cannot convince them that the silent, grave owl is not wiser than the talkative parrot, though the reverse is indisputably true. There could hardly be a more impetuous man than Bonaparte, and he had a clearer head and a sounder judgment than all his generals put together. Murat’s impulses were often stronger than his reason, and in that way detracted from his generalship. Besides, he was too brave, and never counted his enemy. He seemed to think he was not made to be killed in battle, or to be defeated. Bonaparte had great confidence in his judgment when he was cool, and consulted him perhaps more than any other of his fo upon the plan of an anticipated attle. On these occasions Murat never flattered, but expressed his opinions in the plainest, most direct language, and often differed materially from his brotherin-law, Perhaps no one ever had greater skill than Napoleon in judging of the position of the enemy; and in the midst of battle, and in the confusion of conflicting columns, his perceptions were like lightning. Yet, in these great qualities, Murat was nearly his equal. His plans were never reckless, but the manner he carried them out was
desperation itself. Said Bonaparte of him, “He was my right arm—he was a paladin in the field—the best cavalry officer in the world.” Murat loved Bonaparte with supreme devotion, and bore with his impatience and irascibility, and even dissipated them by his good humor. Once, however, Bonaparte irritated him beyond endurance. Murat foresaw the result of a march to Moscow, and expostulated with his brother-in-law on the perilous undertaking. The dispute ran high, and Murat pointed to the lateness of the season, and the inevitable ruin in which the winter, so close at hand, would involve the army. Bonaparte, more passionate than usual, because he felt that Murat had the right of it, as he had, a few days before, when he besought him not to attack Smolensko because the Russians would evacuate it of their own accord, made some reply which was heard only by the latter, but which stung him so to the quick that he simply replied, “A march to Moscow will be the destruction of the army,” and spurred his horse straight into the fire of a Russian battery. Bonaparte had touched him in some sore spot, and he determined to wipe out the disgrace by his death. He ordered all his guard to leave him, and sat there on his magnificent steed, with his piercing eye turned full on the battery, calmly waiting the ball that should shatter him. A more striking subject for a picture was scarce ever furnished than he exhibited in that attitude. There stood his high-mettled and richly caparisoned charger, with arching neck and dilated eye, giving ever and anon, a slight shiver at each explosion of the artillery that ploughed up the turf at his feet, while Murat, in his splendid attire, sat calmly on his back, with his ample breast turned full on the fire, and his proud lip curled in defiance, and his tall white plume waving to and fro in the air, as the bullets whistled by it—the impersonation of calm courage and heroic daring. At length, casting his eye round, he saw General Belliard still by his side. He asked him why he did not withdraw. “Every man,” he replied, “is master of his own life, and as your Majesty seems determined to dispose of
our own, l must be allowed to fall *i. you.” This fidelity and love struck the generous heart of Murat, and he turned his horse and galloped out of the fire. The affection of a single man could conquer him, at any time, whom
the enemy seemed unable to overcome. His own life was nothing, but the life of a friend was surpassingly dear to him. As proof that he was an able general as well as a brave man, we need only refer to the campaign of 1805. He commenced this campaign by the victory of Wertingen—took three thousand prisoners at Languenau, advanced upon Neresheim, charged the enemy and made three thousand prisoners, marched to Norlingen and compelled the whole division of Weernesk to surrender, beat Prince Ferdinand, and hurrying after the enemy, overtook the rear guard of the Austrians, charged them and took 500 prisoners— took Eins, and again beat the enemy on the heights of Amstetten, and made 1800 prisoners—pushed on to Saint Polten, entered Vienna, and without stopping, pressed on after the Russians, and overtaking their rear guard, made 2,000 prisoners, and crowned his rapid, brilliant career with prodigies of valor that filled all Europe with admiration, on the field of Austerlitz. In that battle, Murat, as usual, was stationed behind the lines with the cavalry. It was to him that Bonaparte always looked to complete his victories. It is hard to describe the conflicts of cavalry, for it is a succession of shocks, each lasting but a short time, while the infantry will struggle for hours, enabling one to view and describe ever step and stage of the contest. Hence it is, that in descriptions of battles the separate deeds of cavalry officers are slightly passed over—the shock and the overthrow prevent the proper appreciation of individual acts. Nothing could exceed the grandeur of the scene on which the “sun of Austerlitz” arose. A hundred and fifty-five thousand men met in mortal combat. From sunrise till nightfall, the battle raged and victory wavered, while the rapidly falling columns and the ensanguined, cumbered field, told how awful was the carnage. But amid the roar of a thousand cannon and the incessant discharge of musketry, the muffled sound of Murat’s terrible shocks of cavalry was heard, making the battle field tremble beneath their feet. Nothing, it is said, could be more awful than this dull, heavy sound of his charging squadrons, rising at regular intervals over the roar of combat. Bonaparte usually put fifteen or twenty thousand cavalry under Murat, and placed them in reserve behind the lines, and when he ordered the charge he was
almost certain of victory. . After a long and wasting fight, in which the infantry struggled with almost equal success, and separate bodies of cavalry had effected but little, Bonaparte would order him down with his enormous weight of cavalry. It is said that his eye always brightened as he saw that magnificent body begin to move, and he watched the progress of that single, white plume, which was always visible above the ranks, with the intensest interest. Where it went he knew were broken ranks and trampled men, and while it went he knew that defeat was impossible. Like Ney, he carried immense moral force with him. Not only were his followers inspired by his personal appearance and incredible daring, but he had acquired the reputation of being invincible, and when he ordered the charge, every man, both friend and foe, knew it was to be the most desperate one human power could make. And then the appearance of 20,000 horsemen coming down on the dead llop, led by such a man, was enough to send terror through any infantry. The battle of Valentina exhibited an instance of this moral force of Murat. He had ordered Junot to cross a marshy flat and charge the flank of the Russians while he poured his strong cuirasseurs on the centre. Charging like a storm with his own men, he was surprised to find that Junot had not obeyed his command. Without waiting for his guard, he wheeled his horse, and galloping alone through the wasting fire, rode up to him and demanded why he had not obeyed his order. Junot replied that he could not induce the Westphalian cavalry to stir, so dreadful was the fire where they were ordered to advance. Murat made no reply, but reining his steed up in front of the squadron, waved his sword over his head and dashed straight into the sharp shooters, followed by that hitherto wavering cavalry as if they had forgotten there was such a thing as danger. The Russians were scattered like pebbles from his path; then turning to Junot, he said, “There, thy marshal's staff is half earned for thee; do the rest thyself.” At Jena, after the Prussians began their retreat in an orderly manner, and no efforts of the infantry could break their array, Bonaparte ordered Murat to charge. With 12,000 horsemen following hard after him, cheering as they came, he fell on the exhausted columns and trampled them like grass beneath his feet, and
although Ruchel with his reserve just then came up in battle array, nothing could resist the fury of Murat's successive onsets, and the defeat was changed into a general rout. We find him also at Friedland, bursting with his impetuous charges through the allied ranks. But it is at Eylau that he always appears to us in his most terrible aspect. This battle, fought in mid winter, in 1807, was the most important and dreadful one that had yet occurred. France and Russia had never before opposed such strength to each other, and a complete victory on either side would have settled the fate of Europe. , Bonaparte remained in posses. sion of the field, and that was all—no victory was ever so like a defeat, and Murat alone saved him. The field of Eylau was covered with snow, and the little ponds that lay scattered over it were frozen sufficiently hard to bear the artillery. Seventy-five thousand men on one side, and eighty-five thousand on the other, arose from the field of snow on which they had slept the night of the 7th of February, without tent or covering, to battle for a continent. Augereau, on the left, was utterly routed early in the morning. Advancing through a snow-storm so thick he could not see the enemy, the Russian cannon, fired half at random, mowed down his ranks with their destructive fire, while the Cossack cavalry, which were ordered to charge, came thundering on, almost hitting the French infantry with their long lances before they were visible through the driving snow. Hemmed about and overthrown, the whole division , composed of 16,000 men, with the exception of 1,500, were captured or slain. Just then the snow storm clearing up, revealed to Napoleon the remnant of Augereau's division scattered and flying over the field, while four thousand Russians were close to the hill on which he stood with only a hundred men around
this occasion, and proved himself for the hundredth time worthy of the great confidence Napoleon placed in him. Nothing could be more imposing than the battle field at this moment. Bonaparte and the Empire trembled in the balance, while Murat prepared to lead down his cavalry to save them. Seventy squadrons, making in all 14,000 well mounted men, began to move over the slope. Bonaparte, it is said, was more agitated at this crisis than when, a moment before, he was so near being captured by the Russians. But as he saw those seventy squadrons come down on a plunging trot, and then break into a full gallop, pressing hard after the white plume of Murat, that streamed through the snow storm far in front, a smile passed over his countenance. The shock of that immense host was like a falling mountain, and the front line of the Russian army went down likefrost work before it. Then commenced one of those protracted fights of hand-tohand and sword-to-sword, so seldom witnessed in cavalry. The clashing of steel was like the ringing of a thousand anvils, and horses and riders were blended in wild confusion together. The Russian reserve were ordered up, and on these Murat fell with his fierce cavalry, crushing and trampling them down by thousands. But the obstinate Russians disdained to fly, and rallied again and again, so that it was no longer cavalry charging on infantry, but squadrons of horse galloping through a broken host that, gathering into knots, still disputed with unparalleled bravery the ensanguined field. It was during this strange fight that Murat was seen to perform one of those desperate deeds for which he was so renowned. Excited to the highest pitch of passion by the obstacles that opposed him, he seemed endowed with ten-fold strength, and looked more like a superhuman being treading down helpless mortals, than an ordinary man. Amid the roar of artillery and rattle of musketry, and falling of sabrestrokes like lightning about him, that lofty white plume never once went down, while ever and anon it was seen glancing through the smoke of battle the star of hope to Napoleon, and showing that his oright arm” was still uplifted and striking for an empire. He raged like an unloosed lion amid the foe; and his eye, always terrible in battle, burned with increased lustre, while his clear and steady voice, heard above the tumult of the strife, was worth more than a thousand trumpets to cheer on his followers. At length, seeing a knot of Russian soldiers that had kept up a devouring fire on his men, he wheeled his horse and drove in full gallop upon their leveled muskets. A few of his guard, that never allowed that white plume to leave their sight, charged after. Without waiting to count his foes, he seized the bridle in his teeth, and with a pistol in one hand and his drawn sword in the other, he burst in a headlong gallop upon them, and scattered them as is a hurricane had swept by. Though the cavalry were at length compelled to retire, the Russians had received a check that alone saved the day. Previously, without bringing up their reserve, they were steadily advancing over the field, but now they were glad to cease the combat and wait for further reinforcements under Lesboeg, before they renewed the battle. We need not speak of the progress of the contest during the day. Prodigies of valor were performed on all sides, and men slain by tens of thousands, till night at length closed the awful scene, and the Russians began to retire from the field. Such was the battle of Eylau, fought in the midst of a piercing snow storm. Murat was a thunderbolt on that day, and the deeds that were wrought by him will ever furnish themes for the poet and painter. Butlet the enthusiast go over the scene on the morning after the battle, if he would find a cure for his love of glory. Fifty-turo thousand men lay piled across each other in the short space of six miles, while the snow, giving back the stain of blood, made the field look like one great slaughter-house. The frosts of a wintry morning were all unheeded in the burning fever of ghast] wounds, and the air was loaded with cries for help, and groans, and blasphemies, and cursings. Six thousand horses lay amid the slain, some stiff and cold in death, others rendering the scene still more awful by their shrill cries of pain. The cold heavens looked down on this fallen multitude, while the pale faces of the thousands that were already stiff in death, looked still more appalling in their vast winding-sheet of snow. Foemen had fallen across each other as they fought, and lay like brothers clasped in the last embrace; while dismembered limbs and disembowelled corpses were scattered thick as autumn leaves over the field. Every form of wound, and every
modification of wo were here visible. No modern war had hitherto exhibited such carnage, and where Murat’s cavalry had charged, there the slain lay thickest.
That Bonaparte had confidence in Murat's generalship, is seen in the command he entrusted him with in Spain, and also in appointing him commander-in-chief of the Grand Army in its retreat from Russia. We have said little of his conquest of Spain, because it was done without effort. The sudden rising of the population of Madrid, in which were slaughtered seven hundred Frenchmen, was followed by the public execution of forty of the mob. Much effort has been made to fix a stain on Murat by this exccution, and the destruction of some hundred previously, in the attempt to quell the insurrection: by calling it a premeditated massacre. But it was evidently not so. Murat was imprudent there is no doubt, and acted with duplicity, nay, treachery, in all his dealings with the royal family of Spain, but we also believe he acted under instructions. He doubtless hoped to receive the crown of Spain, but Bonaparte forced it on his brother Joseph, then king of Naples, and put Murat in his place. Of his civil administration we cannot say much in praise. He was too ignorant for a king, and was worthless in the cabinet. The diplomacy of a battle-field he understood, and the management of 20,000 cavalry was an easier thing than the superintendence of a province. Strength of resolution, courage and military skill he was not wanting in, while in the qualities necessary to the administration of a government, he was utterly deficient. He was conscious of his inferiority here, and knew that his imperial brother-in-law, who gazed on him in admiration, almost in awe, in the midst of battle, made sport of him as a king. These things, together with some unsuccessful efforts of his own, exasperated him to such a degree that he became sick and irresolute. Four years of his life passed away in comparative idleness, and it was only the extensive preparations of Napoleon in 1812 to invade Russia, that roused him to be his former self. Bona#. treatment of him while occupying his throne at Naples, together with some things that transpired in the Russian campaign, conspired to embitter Murat's feelings towards his imperious brotherin-law; for his affection, which till that time, was unwavering, began then to vacillate.