War and Peace Volume 4, Part 4, Chapter 10 Summary
The French keep running.
There’s a big scheme from some of the Russian generals to cut the army off and attack from the front near a river. For Tolstoy, this is idiocy, since it just makes the retreat take longer and unnecessarily kills more people.
When the Russians come upon them near this river, the French don’t surrender; they just keep running to the boat in the frozen water.
Surrendering would be pointless, since half the French prisoners died from cold and hunger. There weren’t enough supplies for them and for the Russians, so obviously the prisoners went hungry.
Meanwhile, Kutuzov is more and more the odd man out policy-wise.
He doesn’t want to keep chasing the French past the Russian border. He wants to stop and rest the army and get them resupplied with boots. And all of this, for some reason, marks him as out of touch and kind of dumb.
Finally, he gets a letter from Emperor Alexander telling him to step down.
Kutuzov senses that his time has come. Almost immediately, he turns away from military life and goes to live out the rest of his days in Vilno.
Alexander comes to Vilno and gives Kutuzov the highest medal there is: the Order of St. George.