Tchitchakoff had not only made a mistake in attacking Oudinot but he had also brought with him all the baggage of his army, which filled more than fifteen hundred vehicles, so that the rapid retreat of the Russians caused such confusion that the two regiments of Castex's brigade often found themselves hindered by the carts which had been abandoned by the enemy.

On the evening of the 25th, Corbineau's brigade, whose commander knew the area well, proceeded up the left bank of the Beresina towards Studianka, followed by Castex's brigade and several battalions of light infantry; after which came the bulk of 2nd Corps. We were sorry to leave Borisoff where we had spent two happy days. We had perhaps a presentiment of the bad times which were to come.

As the country was open Oudinot put ahead of his infantry the division of Cuirassiers, and ahead of them Castex's brigade of light cavalry. It was about three leagues from Borisoff that the Russian advance-guard, going in the opposite direction to us, came up against our Cuirassiers, who having done little fighting during the campaign, had asked to be in the front line.

The Marshal intended to encamp his force some three leagues further on, but he feared that the enemy might use the ford to send across large parties of men to harass the great convoy which trailed behind him, so he decided that while he made off into the distance, with the main body of the troops, he would leave behind a regiment of General Castex's brigade in the position which had been occupied by General Saint-Geniès, to watch the ford.

It was here, during a minor action involving Castex's brigade that I received my promotion to colonel.

Castex's brigade stayed on its own in Borisoff and was forbidden to communicate with the other units, from which it was hoped to conceal for as long as possible the disastrous news of the burning of the bridge, which they did not hear about until forty-eight hours later. Under the conventions of war, the enemy's baggage belongs to the captors.

Marshal Oudinot, in his belief that the enemy were going to cross the river, not only kept a division of infantry in position to repel them, but supported them with General Castex's cavalry, an unnecessary precaution, since a crossing of even a small river takes more time than is needed for the defenders to hurry into a position to oppose it.

Marshal Oudinot, aiming at further victory, had decided to follow them, and for this reason he had already despatched on the road to the marsh General Verdier's infantry, which was to be followed first by Castex's brigade of cavalry, then the whole army corps . My regiment had not yet joined the line when I returned to it.

While this infantry battle was taking place before Polotsk, another action was under way on their left, in the open plain which bordered the Dvina. As soon as the cannon shot gave the signal to engage, our cavalry regiments, led by Castex's brigade, advanced rapidly towards the enemy who, for their part, advanced towards us.

The light cavalry provided cover for these cantonments and so, as I have already said, Castex's brigade, to which my regiment belonged, was stationed at Louchonski, on a little river named the Polota, from where we could keep an eye on the main roads leading from Sebej and Newel.