War of the Rebellion: Serial 017 Page 1130 OPERATIONS IN N.VA., W.VA., AND MD. Chapter XXIV.

Search Civil War Official Records

ground in his front and to his right, has been commented on,it may not be inappropriate to add that history shows these obstacles to be insignificant as contrasted with those which have been often in great emergencies overcome by military commanders. The battle of Hohenlinden furnished an illustration, and in one respect bears a striking analogy, while in another offering a remarkable contrast to the events of 29th August. A few extracts from Theirs' History of the Consulate and the Empire, vol.1, pp.217, 218, 219, Lippincott & Co.'s edition of 1861, will suffice to show the appositeness of the reference.

Moreau, with 60,000 French troops, was met by an Austrian army 70,000 strong. "Richepanse and Decean's division," says the historian. "were sent by Moreau an order, somewhat vaguely expressed, but positive, to throw themselves from their right-hand to the left-hand road, to get into the latter, into the environs of Maltenboet, and there surprise the Austrian army, entangled in the forest. He neither indicated the route to be pursued nor provided against accidents which might occur. He left everything that was to be done to the intelligence of Richepanse." "At length, as the battle progressed, a wavering was observed in the Austrian troops of the center, which proved to be Richepanse falling on their rear." "He had started without waiting for Decan, and daringly penetrated into that tract of thickets and ravines, which separated the two roads, and marching while the fight was going on at Hohenlinden, and making incredible efforts to drag with him over that inundated ground six pieces of small caliber." "Richepanse, reckoning upon Decan to extricate Drouet's brigade, had marched without losing a moment for Maltenboet, for his military instinct told him that was the decisive point. Though he had left but two demi-brigades of infantry (the Eighth and Forty-eighth), a single regiment of cavalry (the First Chasseurs), and six pieces of cannon, with about 6,000 men, he had continued his march, dragging his artillery by hand, almost always through the quagmire." "He then fell to the left, and took the bold resolution of falling on the Austrian rear in the defile of the forest." "Marching, sword in hand, amidst his grenadiers, he penetrated into the first, sustained, without flinching, a violent discharge of grapeshot, then fell in with two Hungarian battalions, which hastened to bar up his passage. Richepanse would have inspirited his brave soldiers with words and gestures, but they had no need of them. 'Those fellows are our prisoners,' cried they, 'let us charge!' They charged accordingly, and completely routed the Hungarian battalions. Presently they came to masses of baggage, artillery, infantry, accumulated pell-mell at this spot. Richepanse struck inexpressible terror into this multitude, and threw it into frightful disorder. At the same moment he heard confused shouts at the other extremity of the defile. It was Ney, who, advancing from Hohenlinden, had penetrated by the head of the defile, and pushed before him the Austrian column which Reichepanse was driving the other way by attacking it in the rear." A complete rout of the Austrian army ensued. Its loss was some 20,000 men, with nearly all its artillery and baggage, and "what," as the historian observe, "was of still greater importance, its moral courage." "This battle," continues M. Thiers, "is the most brilliant that Moreau ever fought, and certainly one of the greatest in the present century, which has beheld such extraordinary conflicts."

What were the difficulties that appalled the accused on the 29th as compared with those surmounted by Richepanse with but 6,000 men? This example is an impressive proof of what a general can and will achieve when his heart is in his work, and when he finds himself in the