War and Peace Volume 1, Part 2, Chapter 21 Summary
Let’s all take a nice, long, deep breath now. The fighting is over and now we’re going to get a little wrap-up. Not necessarily a happy one or anything, but you know – at least it’s not full-on horse-blowing-up gore anymore.
Captain Tushin is riding away with the cannons on a wagon. There are a bunch of wounded soldiers asking for rides.
One of these is our friend Nikolai Rostov, who has some kind of arm injury. He claims it’s a bruise, but it hurts so much that he can’t walk. Tushin shoves everyone over and they dump a dead body off the wagon to make a space for Nikolai.
Finally, the powers that be order a halt to the march and everyone makes campfires. It’s not a good scene – lots of wounded men groaning and not too much to be done about it.
Nikolai sits at Tushin’s fire and is going in and out of delirium. He’s really not well. Shmoop’s thinking that maybe it’s more than a bruise? We’ll see.
Some soldiers come and go. Tushin is nice to Nikolai.
After a while someone comes to tell Tushin that General Bagration wants to talk to him. Is this good or bad? It's hard to tell.
Bagration is in a hut nearby with Andrei and some other general who is totally lying about his doings in the battle.
And so is the guy who was supposed to be the messenger, who claims to have almost run into Andrei (which obviously he didn't, since we know he chickened out and did nothing the whole time). Andrei is all, I didn’t see you on the battlefield, jerk.
Out of nowhere Bagration lays into Tushin. What on earth, right?
Well, turns out this non-message-delivering guy totally screwed Tushin over. That cannon brigade was supposed to retreat with all the guns. Instead, because they never got the order and kept fighting, they lost so many men that two of the cannons had to be left behind.
Tushin doesn’t explain any of this, realizing that if he tells his side of the story he’ll just get some other officer in trouble. He’s one upstanding guy.
Andrei pipes up at this point and tells Bagration that without Tushin’s cannon fire, the battle would probably have ended in a total slaughter.
OK, a little aside here. Yes, the battle ended in retreat, but in reality, it was a big win for the Russians. Remember, Bagration and his troops were a tiny force sent to fight off the French for as long as they could so the main part of the Russian army could get to the town of Znaim without the French intercepting them. So good work, General B.
Bagration is kind of neutral at Andrei’s words.
But as Tushin and Andrei walk out of the tent, Tushin thanks him.
Andrei walks off, disappointed that the army isn’t what he thought it would be.
Meanwhile, Nikolai is still hallucinating. No doctor has come to see him, and he just lies there all confused and depressed.