Act 1, Scenes 4-6

SCENE 4: The Red Square

Napoleon is standing with Berthier & Eugene

Gourgaud, this is a sorry sight to see
The diminuation of our army
Disenergizes recent victories
Men sensing tensions in this phyrric post
Might dismoralize them in the fighting
Next time arrange the lines two deep, not three

Yes, sire, of course

{Addressing the troops}
Soldiers of the Eagles
Today is a day of celebration
Of medals & promotions battle forg’d,
Deserving all corners I gaze upon,
Where men who washed their blood so many times,
Across contested continental fields,
Hold guns which shot our glory like a dart
Into the stately heart of Russian realms
Where all of us bore witness to a crime,
The grossest deconstruction of Moscow
By its own citizens, however base,
Has proven their need to be civilized,
Such matter will take time, of course, & toil,
But Moscow yields fruitful stores to furnish
Our cause with winter quarters, & supplies
More than another place, we shall convert
Monasteries, convents & the Kremlin
Into a state of highly-tun’d defence
We are to be heavily reinforced
By fresh levied men hard marching from France,
Troops of Polish Cossacks too advance,
The wonders of our thunder incomplete,
For new adventures let us steel ourselves
Enflame firm hearts, throw frailty from the beat,
& send to France her greatest ever news!

Exit Napoleon & the entourage

SCENE 5: Inside the Kremlin

Caulaincourt is pacing in a state of some agitation / Enter Napoleon, Eugene & Berthier

Yesterday’s courier as yet arrives
From Paris

At present we wait still

How can this be? It has been as easy
To reach Moscow from Paris as Marseille,
Fatiloquence curses perilous days
Give me a drop of imperial mail
It was never lately so late delay’d
When organizing empires at the root
One cannot bare to lose a single hour

The longer the line the shorter the odds
Of uncourteous disentegrations

& what of Alexander, is there word

No reply has been received

Not one

No sire

His silence sheds the taint of disrespect
Of criminals caught in inquisition
I am amazed by my adversary
This wordlack steals the thunder of my guns
Successes in the Spring will be too late
All Europe’s eyes would view it a reverse
I never reckon’d on the Tsar’s strange hush
We have play’d out the game with each other
What is there now to do but fold the board
Not one offensive insult was exchang’d
& now our noble duelling is over
We should come to terms, remain best of friends
When no animosities would prevent
Our signing preliminaries of peace
To instigate dequandreal withdrawl
From our menacing presence in Moscow

The delegation to the Tsar has fail’d
To stay by day expands infeasible
Our soldiers cannot stand without a drink
Their strength diminishes each precious hour,
While the winter will masticate, surely,
Most of our couriers

Russia’s winter?
It seems to be a common fairy tale
This Autumn finer than at Fontainbleu

You have not seen the dark days here, I have,
We must avoid a protracted sojurn

You seem half-frozen from your memory
Besides, winter’s extremliest rigours
Will not arrive within the short, sharp span
Of twenty four hours, & tho’ we might be
Less accliamtised than the enemy
We are fundamentally more robust

Winter shall explode like tunell’d fuse-mines
Beneath sleeping cities, in two swift weeks
Nails drop off first then fingers follow suit

Enter Gourgaud is some distress holding a despatch

Your majesty


The courier


No, sire, it has been attack’d
The riders all captur’d, their packages
Confiscated by a swarm of Cossacks

Then what is that you hold?

Word from Murat
There has been a battle your majesty

A battle



The south screen

Give it me
{Napoleon reads the despatch}
This news distresses most emunctory,
Miroladovitch breaks the armistice
King Murat is defeated & at rout
From Woronovo, I knew it, just knew

How many dead

A thousand

& the guns

Thirty six lost, while fifteen hundred men
Were by Fedorovitch made prisoners

The Cossacks must have rused him all along

What folly of the King, this changes all

What do you mean your majesty,

We must
Outwipe the fray’d effects of this surprise
Punishing the Russian impertinance
Re-establish upon the battlefield
The honour of our arms, before the snare
Encloses us completely, take battle
To our hideous, perfidious foes,
Then winter in Smolensk, from there to march
On Petersburg, when flows fine-weather’d Spring.

You mean we are to leave Moscow

At once
How is the army at the last account

There are 95,000 soldiers, sire
Five thousand infantry of the Old Guard
& a thousand of the Young


Fifteen thousand regular, the Guard four

& cannon

Five hundred fit for service

Well they should see us safely thro the weeks
It takes to reach Smolensk, Prince Neuchetal

Yes, sire

I have a special job for you

What is it

You must burn down the Kremlin,
The brandy stores, barracks & palaces,
Destroy sulphur, saltpetre, stables, magazines
Break muskets in pieces, smash caisson wheels
But, as I might return to Moscow yet,
Save everything of value to our arms –
Powder, cannonballs, cartridges & lead.

Yes Sire

& your orders for the army

We march on the morrow – rest well tonight
Sleepless-started journies rarely fare well.

SCENE 6: The Gates of Moscow

Bourgogne is marching with his company / he is wearing a yellow silk waistcoat over a shirt padded on the inside, & a large ermine cape

O what a sight this monstrous caravan
Of carts & wagons rumbling four abreast
Look, Boquet, some are shatter’d already,
Wheels sinking deep ruts in the sandy road
Listen, as twenty nationalities
Converse cacophonic by Babel’s walls
There’s swearing in French, oaths in Low German,
Italians entreating the almighty,
While Portuguese the Holy Virgin praise,
There are so many countries & dialects,
It seems as if the Grecian games remade,
But one where reigns anarchy & chaos.

With all our beer & brandy abandon’d!
A tragedy, Bourgogne, what need have we
Upon long marches of heavy treasures
With all that fur & fabric on their backs
They seem a people of the patriarchs

They do indeed, loot weighs them heavy down
& I too carry the weight of trinkets
But looking at those broken wagon wheels
I think a little lessening of load
Seensible & prudent in the halting
I’ll catch up soon

I’ll wait with you sergent

Now let me see what my not little greed
Made ventures on my knapsack & my belt –
Some rice & several pounds of sugar
Some biscuit, half a bottle of liqueur
A red silk dress all the way from China
Some ornamental gold & pieces carv’d
& a little bit of the silver gilt
That cover’d the cross of Ivan the Great
A large riding cloak lined with green velvet
Two silver pictures, each ten inches high,
The judgement of Paris on Mount Ida
The other Neptune, on chariot shell
Drawn by sea-horses, both are angels’ work,
& what is this – ah! some prince’s spitton
Such stunning set of presents for my friends
So they must all remain – perhaps my clothes
Would serve me better absent from my bags,
I will not wear these trouser whites again,
& what about my pouch, what lies in there…
I’ll need to keep this crucifix for luck
& adore this porcelain Shanghai vase,
They both must stay curated for the march,
My wee museum of two thousand miles!
But there is more, a dark grey overcoat
& weighty box knotted in handkerchief

I travel lightly sergent, give them me
& you’ll recieve them safe on our return

Are you sure

Quite sure

Good man

Good sergent

Bourgogne laughs / a sound of firearms in the distance – enter Legrand

To arms, to arms, six thousand cossack horse
Fair favourd by the fog did now emerge
Upon the flanks – our fightback has begun.

Exit Bourgogne & Legrand hastily

End of Act I

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