War and Peace Volume 1, Part 3, Chapter 14 Summary
This chapter is just straight-up military history. Well, at least military history from a regular soldier’s perspective. It’s all part of Tolstoy’s pattern of giving us a big-picture overview of the action, then zooming in to check on how the actual characters in the novel are doing.
The next morning, the Russian left flank of soldiers gets ready. They’re going to be the first to attack the French right flank.
They start walking through really thick fog.
At first morale is high, but then, quickly, some kind of feeling of uncertainty spreads. It’s like a virus, a horrible, airborne virus.
They all have to wait, but no one knows why, and so the soldiers immediately blame the Austrians for being the problem.
In reality, it’s that the infantry has to wait for the cavalry to pass in front of them, and all of this causes an hour-long delay.
In any case, even once everyone gets a move-on, all is not well. The assumption for some reason is that the French troops are really far away, when instead they are all positioned on the other side of a valley. There is a dense fog in the valley, so the Russians walking through can’t see the enemy until they are very close, and can’t organize to start fighting until it’s too late.
Napoleon watches everything from a nearby hill. It’s the anniversary of his coronation. (Wait, is he a king? Well, yes and no – check out the “Setting” section for the scoop.)
Napoleon is all pensive and having feelings. He’s a sensitive ponytail man minus the ponytail and, probably, most of the sensitivity.
He waits a little bit and then orders his troops to attack the Russian soldiers.