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War and Peace

War and Peace


by Leo Tolstoy

War and Peace Volume 1, Part 2, Chapter 8 Summary

  • Finally, we’re about to see some action.
  • All of the army has now crossed the bridge except the regiment Nikolai Rostov is in. They’re the ones that are supposed to set the thing on fire.
  • Behind them they can see the French troops getting closer and closer. Now they're about 600 yards away, just slightly out of firing range.
  • Cannonballs are flying this way and that from the French, but they keep missing the regiment.
  • Denisov sees Nikolai, who is feeling all gung-ho-lemme-at-‘em.
  • But no dice.  The colonel in charge orders the men to cross the bridge, which they do, with no casualties.
  • Phew, right? Well, no.
  • Just then Nesvitsky rides up to the colonel and is all, dudes, how come the bridge isn’t on fire? The colonel is like, um, because you didn’t specifically tell me to do it.
  • But it’s got to be done, so a bunch of men from the regiment go back onto the bridge to start the fire. Of course a bunch of time has passed and the French are really close now.
  • Nikolai goes out with the volunteers.
  • The French start shooting, and one guy goes down immediately.
  • In a little bit, Nesvitsky, watching from a safe distance, sees another guy get hit. The French move on to canister shot, which is a little bit like a shrapnel bomb. They launch a projectile that lands, explodes, and takes out a couple people.
  • Nikolai starts freaking out. The war isn’t like anything he thought it would be. No swordplay, no hand-to-hand combat, just standing exposed on a bridge while the enemy shoots like target practice.
  • He’s sad and embarrassed to be scared, but no one cares – this is a common first-time experience.
  • Finally, it’s done. The bridge is on fire, and the survivors are back across with the rest of the Russian army.
  • The colonel is all proud of himself and dismisses the casualties as nothing.

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