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War and Peace

War and Peace


by Leo Tolstoy

War and Peace Volume 3, Part 1, Chapter 2 Summary

  • Now that we know that nothing happens for any reason whatsoever, where does that leave us?
  • Oh, right, we still need to know what actually takes place.
  • On May 29, 1812, Napoleon sets out east from Dresden.
  • Even though there’s still diplomacy being conducted, and peace terms are being worked out, he is going out to give orders to the army, which is also moving east.
  • Twelve days later, Napoleon gets to the Niemen River, meets up with the army, and orders them to advance. This is surprising, since there’s still some hope of peace.
  • As the troops cross the river, Napoleon stands on a little hill. As the soldiers see him they go crazy teenage-fan-style.
  • The next day Napoleon gallops ahead and finds a group of Polish soldiers waiting on the banks of the Vilia River.
  • He orders them to take their horse and find a ford (a shallow place where you can wade across a river without needing a bridge).
  • But these are some seriously starstruck guys. Their leader is all, we don’t need a ford! Let’s go for it, boys! And they all jump into the river with their horse and just try to swim for it.
  • The river is deep. The current is strong. These guys are morons. They all drown.
  • Later Napoleon orders their leader to be given the Legion of Honor (a big-deal French medal), posthumously, of course (meaning after his death).

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