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But at length the thunder of the Russian cannon roused him from this delirious dreaming. Kutusoff, inducing Murat by a stratagem to declare the armistice at an end, attacked his position and defeated him, with a loss of two thousand men killed, and one thousand five hundred taken prisoners. He took his cannon and baggage, and drove him from his entrenchments. The only food found in the French camp was horseflesh and flayed cats; the King of Naples had no better for his tablethus showing the miserable straits to which they were reduced. On the 19th of October Buonaparte marched out of Moscow, leaving, however, a strong garrison in the Kremlin, under Mortier, for it would appear that he still intended to return thither. The army which followed him still consisted of nearly one hundred and twenty thousand men, accompanied by five hundred and fifty pieces of cannon, and two thousand artillery waggons. Buonaparte spoke with affected cheerfulness to his generals, saying that he would march by Kaluga to the frontiers of Poland, where they would go into comfortable winter quarters. After the army came another host of camp-followers of French who had been resident at Moscow but dared not remain behind, and a vast train of carriages loaded with baggage and the spoils of Moscow.
Instruction pour M. Bouteroue, 1668.
The difficult task remained to provide the necessary funds. Laval imposed a tithe of one-thirteenth on all products of the soil, or, as afterwards settled, on grains alone. This tithe was paid to the seminary, and by the seminary to the priests. The people, unused to such a burden, clamored and resisted; and Mzy, in his disputes with the bishop, had taken advantage of their discontent. It became necessary to reduce the tithe to a twenty-sixth, which, as there was little or no money among the inhabitants, was paid in kind. Nevertheless, the scattered and impoverished settlers grudged even this contribution to the support of a priest whom many of them rarely saw; and the collection of it became a matter of the greatest difficulty and uncertainty. How the king came to the rescue, we shall hereafter see.
Retreat was now inevitable, and Burgoyne determined to attempt to reach Fort George, at the southern end of Lake George. He had but three days' provisions left, and his force was now reduced to three thousand five hundred men, and these had to make their way through a wilderness swarming with active and elate enemies. Gates, aware of the movement which Burgoyne was intending to make, sent troops up the river to occupy the banks of the Hudson, and to guard all passages of escape. The distance to Saratoga was only six miles, but the rain fell in torrents, the roads were almost impassable, the bridges over the Fishkill were all broken down by the Americans. Burgoyne sent forward detachments of soldiers to repair the bridges and re-open the roads; but they found the woods swarming with riflemen, and that it was impossible to execute the task assigned them. On the 10th, when he arrived at the fords of the Fishkill, he found them obstructed by strong forces of Americans. He soon dispersed them with cannon, but they only retired to the Hudson, where still stronger bodies of troops were posted to oppose his crossing. He might, perhaps, have dispersed these too, but other bodies were seen already in line on the left bank, and to cross there appeared hopeless.
** Juchereau, H?tel-Dieu de Qubec, 511