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War and Peace

War and Peace


by Leo Tolstoy

War and Peace Volume 1, Part 2, Chapter 16 Summary

  • Andrei rides out to the top of the battery to check out the field position of all the troops.
  • OK, let’s take a little pause here. The battery? The limbers? The divisions? The cavalry? What are all these super-precise technical terms and how on earth are we supposed to follow a really detailed description of 19th-century army stuff? Yeah, good question. Shmoop has this to propose: obviously, the exact specifics are probably not going to register. And yes, that will mean missing some stuff and not getting the complete flavor of this combination of history and fiction that Tolstoy was going for. If, however, the only other option is to skip the book entirely, we give you permission to gloss over the technical stuff a little bit and just try to keep up with the gist of the military campaigns. When the military stuff starts to get super detailed, it’s OK to step back, get a more general sense of the action, and just keep up with the characters you know.
  • Back to the story. Basically, Andrei goes to the top of a hill and sees the small Russian force around him. (Remember, the main Russian army is going with Kutuzov toward the city of Znaim, and this is just a little division trying to buy that main force some time.) 
  • He also sees the French really close by and huge, about to overrun the Russians by sheer numbers.
  • Andrei makes himself a little map and then writes some notes about a different troop layout that he wants to propose to General Bagration.
  • Then he overhears some officers in a nearby tent talking about the afterlife. He recognizes one voice – it’s Captain Tushin, the guy who was barefoot before.
  • Just then there is a whooshing noise. It’s...a cannonball! It lands just a few feet away from the tent. The guys run out in a mild panic.

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