It was a hot starlit night of the first week in August, and there came upon him a swift homesickness for the world above the snow-line. How many of his friends were sleeping that night in mountain huts high up on the shoulders of the mountains or in bivouacs open to the stars with a rock-cliff at their backs and a fire of pine wood blazing at their feet.
When the Countess heard the report and the cries that followed, she sprang out of the carriage, and rushed in frenzied anguish over the snow-covered plain; she saw the burned bivouacs and the fatal raft about to be launched on a frozen Beresina. She saw Major Philip brandishing his sabre among the crowd.
"But perhaps he wished to allow himself time to drive on before him, out of danger and clear of the ranks, the troublesome crowd of soldiers, who had become useless, to rally the better sort, and to re-organize the army? as if it were possible to convey any orders whatever to men so scattered about, or to rally them, without lodgings, or distribution of provisions, to bivouacs; in short, to think of re-organization for corps of dying soldiers, all of whom had no longer any thing to adhere to, and whom the least touch would dissolve."
Towards dawn he slept once more, only to be aroused again for the purpose of swinging up towards the front line for support. No attack came, and now, the sun rising above the eastern hills, he and his troop trailed wearily back to their own bivouacs.
For the eighth time since we left Moscow, we were obliged to abandon these en masse in their hospitals, as they had been abandoned singly along the whole march, on all our fields of battle, and at all our bivouacs.
As both the artillery and infantry had been over six months together in three-piece shelters or bivouacs at Aldershot, with only one blanket each, this ship-board treatment was thought a great luxury. It was at the period just after the Opposition to the English Government had said that the British navy could not sail and the British soldier could not march.
The voice from the vision of sorrow-illumined men in frozen bivouacs, crying to America to hold fast to the dream of her Founders, lest the vessel of the future be drained of vital essence, indeed to hold fast until we come ...crying for America to answer, not with rapacious intellect, not the answer of a militant body, but an answer from the soul of the New World, with its original vitality in the Fatherhood of God.
These are now all under way; astir from Jauernik and Schweidnitz, silently streaming along; and Dumoulin bivouacs here, very silent he: not so silent the Saxons; who are still marching in, over yonder, to westward of Dumoulin, their rear-guard groping out its posts as it best can in the dark.
"The night was drawing to a close; it was four o'clock, and all were already asleep in Delzons's bivouacs, excepting a few sentinels, when Doctorof's Russians suddenly rushed in the dark out of the wood with tremendous shouts.
So there was some attempt at Christmas cheer in the holes in the sand into which the weather had driven us, for we who had once set our bivouacs to catch every breath of wind, now dug ourselves down three or four feet to avoid the sand-laden and icy blast.