Sevastopol : Chapter 26
(1828 - 1910) ~ Father of Christian Anarchism : In 1861, during the second of his European tours, Tolstoy met with Proudhon, with whom he exchanged ideas. Inspired by the encounter, Tolstoy returned to Yasnaya Polyana to found thirteen schools that were the first attempt to implement a practical model of libertarian education. (From : Anarchy Archives.)
• "You are surprised that soldiers are taught that it is right to kill people in certain cases and in war, while in the books admitted to be holy by those who so teach, there is nothing like such a permission..." (From : "Letter to a Non-Commissioned Officer," by Leo Tol....)
• "The Government and all those of the upper classes near the Government who live by other people's work, need some means of dominating the workers, and find this means in the control of the army. Defense against foreign enemies is only an excuse. The German Government frightens its subjects about the Russians and the French; the French Government, frightens its people about the Germans; the Russian Government frightens its people about the French and the Germans; and that is the way with all Governments. But neither Germans nor Russians nor Frenchmen desire to fight their neighbors or other people; but, living in peace, they dread war more than anything else in the world." (From : "Letter to a Non-Commissioned Officer," by Leo Tol....)
• "If, in former times, Governments were necessary to defend their people from other people's attacks, now, on the contrary, Governments artificially disturb the peace that exists between the nations, and provoke enmity among them." (From : "Patriotism and Government," by Leo Tolstoy, May 1....)
Vlang found his battery on the second line of defense. Out of the twenty soldiers who had been in the mortar battery, only eight survived.
At nine o'clock in the evening, Vlang set out with the battery on a steamer loaded down with soldiers, cannon, horses, and wounded men, for Severnaya.
There was no firing anywhere. The stars shone brilliantly in the sky, as on the preceding night; but a strong wind tossed the sea. On the first and second bastions, lightnings flashed along the earth; explosions rent the atmosphere, and illuminated strange black objects in their vicinity, and the stones which flew through the air.
Something was burning near the docks, and the red glare was reflected in the water. The bridge, covered with people, was lighted up by the fire from the Nikolaevsky battery. A vast flame seemed to hang over the water, from the distant promontory of the Alexandrovsky battery, and illuminated the clouds of smoke beneath,[Pg 257] as it rose above them; and the same tranquil, insolent, distant lights as on the preceding evening gleamed over the sea, from the hostile fleet.
The fresh breeze raised billows in the bay. By the red light of the conflagrations, the masts of our sunken ships, which were settling deeper and deeper into the water, were visible. Not a sound of conversation was heard on deck; there was nothing but the regular swish of the parted waves, and the steam, the neighing and pawing of the horses, the words of command from the captain, and the groans of the wounded. Vlang, who had had nothing to eat all day, drew a bit of bread from his pocket, and began to chew it; but all at once he recalled Volodya, and burst into such loud weeping that the soldiers who were near him heard it.
“See how our Vlanga[N] is eating his bread and crying too,” said Vasin.
“Wonderful!” said another.
“And see, they have fired our barracks,” he continued, with a sigh.[Pg 258] “And how many of our brothers perished there; and the French got it for nothing!”
“At all events, we have got out of it alive—thank God for that!” said Vasin.
“But it's provoking, all the same!”
“What is there provoking about it? Do you suppose they are enjoying themselves there? Not exactly! You wait, our men will take it away from them again. And however many of our brethren perish, as God is holy, if the emperor commands, they will win it back. Can ours leave it to them thus? Never! There you have the bare walls; but they have destroyed all the breastworks. Even if they have planted their standard on the hill, they won't be able to make their way into the town.”
“Just wait, we'll have a hearty reckoning with you yet, only give us time,” he concluded, addressing himself to the French.
“Of course we will!” said another, with conviction.
Along the whole line of bastions of Sevastopol, which had for so many months seethed with remarkably vigorous life, which had for so many months seen dying heroes relieved one after another by death, and which had for so many months awakened the terror, the hatred, and finally the[Pg 259] admiration of the enemy,—on the bastions of Sevastopol, there was no longer a single man. All was dead, wild, horrible,—but not silent.
Destruction was still in progress. On the earth, furrowed and strewn with the recent explosions, lay bent gun-carriages, crushing down the bodies of Russians and of the foe; heavy iron cannons silenced forever, bombs and cannon-balls hurled with horrible force into pits, and half-buried in the soil, then more corpses, pits, splinters of beams, bomb-proofs, and still more silent bodies in gray and blue coats. All these were still frequently shaken and lighted up by the crimson glow of the explosions, which continued to shock the air.
The foe perceived that something incomprehensible was going on in that menacing Sevastopol. Those explosions and the death-like silence on the bastions made them shudder; but they dared not yet believe, being still under the influence of the calm and forcible resistance of the day, that their invincible enemy had disappeared, and they awaited motionless and in silence the end of that gloomy night.
The army of Sevastopol, like the gloomy,[Pg 260] surging sea, quivering throughout its entire mass, wavering, plowing across the bay, on the bridge, and at the north fortifications, moved slowly through the impenetrable darkness of the night; away from the place where it had left so many of its brave brethren, from the place all steeped in its blood, from the place which it had defended for eleven months against a foe twice as powerful as itself, and which it was now ordered to abandon without a battle.
The first impression produced on every Russian by this command was inconceivably sad. The second feeling was a fear of pursuit. The men felt that they were defenseless as soon as they abandoned the places on which they were accustomed to fight, and they huddled together uneasily in the dark, at the entrance to the bridge, which was swaying about in the heavy breeze.
The infantry pressed forward, with a clash of bayonets, and a thronging of regiments, equipages, and arms; cavalry officers made their way about with orders, the inhabitants and the military servants accompanying the baggage wept and besought to be permitted to cross, while the artillery,[Pg 261] in haste to get off, forced their way to the bay with a thunder of wheels.
In spite of the diversions created by the varied and anxious demands on their attention, the instinct of self-preservation and the desire to escape as speedily as possible from that dread place of death were present in every soul. This instinct existed also in a soldier mortally wounded, who lay among the five hundred other wounded, upon the stone pavement of the Pavlovsky quay, and prayed God to send death; and in the militia-man, who with his last remaining strength pressed into the compact throng, in order to make way for a general who rode by, and in the general in charge of the transportation, who was engaged in restraining the haste of the soldiers, and in the sailor, who had become entangled in the moving battalion, and who, crushed by the surging throng, had lost his breath, and in the wounded officer, who was being borne along in a litter by four soldiers, who, stopped by the crowd, had placed him on the ground by the Nikolaevsky battery, and in the artillery-man, who had served his gun for sixteen years, and who, at his superior's command, to him incomprehensible, to throw overboard[Pg 262] the guns, had, with the aid of his comrades, sent them over the steep bank into the bay; and in the men of the fleet, who had just closed the port-holes of the ships, and had rowed lustily away in their boats. On stepping upon the further end of the bridge, nearly every soldier pulled off his cap and crossed himself.
But behind this instinct there was another, oppressive and far deeper, existing along with it; this was a feeling which resembled repentance, shame, and hatred. Almost every soldier, as he gazed on abandoned Sevastopol, from the northern shore, sighed with inexpressible bitterness of heart, and menaced the foe.
[I] In many regiments the officers call a soldier, half in scorn, half caressingly, Moskva (Moscovite), or prisyaga (an oath).
[J] This effect cannot be reproduced in English.
[K] “My good sir,” a familiarly respectful mode of address.
[L] “Manual for Artillery Officers,” by Bezak.
[M] A game in which the loser is rapped on the nose with the cards.
[N] The feminine form, as previously referred to.
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