Napoleon Series Archive 2010

Re: 400 heroes in frozen Berezina
In Response To: 400 heroes in frozen Berezina ()

Dear Pierre,

I just published a book on the Berezina in which I tried to recreate the events based on a variety of sources. I could not find Eble's report on the Berezina, though. As Kevin indicated, Girod de l'Ain's book contains reports to and from Eble in the concluding pages of the book but majority of them are from the 1790s, only Nos. 137-143 deals with 1812 but none of them are battle reports from the Berezina.

I suggest you looking at memoirs of George D. Benthien who commanded Dutch pontonniers and provides great details on the passage.
Benthien, George Diederich (J. Eysten, ed.). “Doorloopend verhaal van de dienstverrichtingen der Nederlandsche pontonniers onder den majoor G.D. Benthien 1797-1825,” in Bijdragen en Mededeelingen van het Historisch Genootschap, XXXII (1911): 100-177

There are also various Polish sources form the Polish engineers who participated in the building of the bridges. One of my favorite passage is from Maciej Rybinski, of the 15th Polish Line, who late on 26 November saw a group of Polish and French pontoniers working on the bridge:
"Half immersed in the water, these men were repairing separated beams and other damage. I told the officers in Polish, ‘These men are so devoted to their mission! This night they may repair the damage but tomorrow they will all succumb to cold and will die.’ They replied, ‘Yes, but the army will pass through.’"

Best wishes,
Alex

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