It was not without secret satisfaction, therefore, that Prince Gorchakov watched the repeated defeats of the Austrian army in the Italian campaign of 1859, and he felt inclined to respond to the advances made to him by Napoleon III.; but the germs of a Russo-French alliance, which had come into existence immediately after the Crimean War, ripened very slowly, and they were completely destroyed in 1863 when the French emperor wounded Russian sensibilities deeply by giving moral and diplomatic support to the Polish insurrection.
The peace of Tilsit (July 7, 1807) enabled Napoleon to press on his projects for securing the command of the Mediterranean, thenceforth a fundamental axiom of his policy.
With the collapse of the invasion scheme, the naval war between Napoleon and Great Britain entered on a new phase.
To us it is incomprehensible that millions of Christian men killed and tortured each other either because Napoleon was ambitious or Alexander was firm, or because England's policy was astute or the Duke of Oldenburg wronged.
In action his reckless bravery had earned him rebuke, and in Paris he was remarked for the exact performance of his military duties, though he found time to whet his appetite for art in the matchless collections gathered by Napoleon as the spoil of all Europe.
It was not that they knew that much food and fresh troops awaited them in Smolensk, nor that they were told so (on the contrary their superior officers, and Napoleon himself, knew that provisions were scarce there), but because this alone could give them strength to move on and endure their present privations.
Maximilian had meanwhile drawn nearer to the clericals and farther from the French, and, to protect French interests, Napoleon III.
If so much has been and still is written about the Berezina, on the French side this is only because at the broken bridge across that river the calamities their army had been previously enduring were suddenly concentrated at one moment into a tragic spectacle that remained in every memory, and on the Russian side merely because in Petersburg--far from the seat of war--a plan (again one of Pfuel's) had been devised to catch Napoleon in a strategic trap at the Berezina River.
Then all these Westphalians and Hessians whom Napoleon is leading would not follow him into Russia, and we should not go to fight in Austria and Prussia without knowing why.
Having listened to a suggestion from Davout, who was now called Prince d'Eckmuhl, to turn the Russian left wing, Napoleon said it should not be done, without explaining why not.