War and Peace Volume 1, Part 2, Chapter 13 Summary
Andrei is a little nervous riding back. He’s worried about getting captured by the French.
Then he sees the Russian army and forgets all about that.
The army is in total chaos – wagons blocking traffic, dead horses all over the place (ew!), drunken soldiers...
Suddenly Andrei hears calls for help from a nearby wagon. It’s the wife of a doctor who’s gotten stuck with the army and can’t get through because her driver is being beaten by some minor officer.
Andrei steps up and tries to get the minor officer to stop but immediately realizes that the guy is wasted out of his gourd and has drunk-rage, so he can’t be reasoned with.
What does Andrei do? Well, he puts on his best authoritative voice and tells the guy to let the wagon through. And it works. Sort of. Because Andrei is just grossed out by the whole situation and goes to the first house he can find to get some food and drink.
Shmoopy brain snack: What’s up with the soldiers having houses to go into everywhere? Basically, back in the day (before there were army bases all over the place) marching armies would be put up, or “quartered,” in the houses of locals. It wasn’t really such a good deal for the locals, since they didn’t get any say in the matter, and a bunch of 20-year-old boys let loose on some little town where they don’t have to answer to anyone is never a great thing. That’s why in this and other novels that describe old-timey war campaigns, there’ll be a lot of talk about how the soldiers are doing with the local populace.
Right, then. Where were we? Oh, Andrei and the nearby house. He runs into another officer there, Nesvitsky. Remember him? He’s the one who made sure the bridge got blown up.
They eat, then Andrei goes to see General Kutuzov to report back about his trip to see the emperor.
Kutuzov is meeting with Schmidt’s replacement (Schmidt was the German general who got killed), and it’s clearly a high-stress situation.
Kutuzov asks Andrei to come with him in his carriage. Once they are alone, Kutuzov has an emotional moment, thinking about the soldiers about to die facing the French.
Andrei is impressed and checks out Kutuzov’s battle scars (the guy is missing an eye that was shot out in an earlier war).
Then Kutuzov snaps out of it and asks Andrei some questions about his visit to the emperor’s court.