The crockets and finials on the fleches of Amiens and Rheims are beautiful specimens of a highly ornamental treatment of cast lead, for which France was especially celebrated.
Then they rode downhill and uphill, across a ryefield trodden and beaten down as if by hail, following a track freshly made by the artillery over the furrows of the plowed land, and reached some fleches * which were still being dug.
From the fleches they rode still farther to the left, along a road winding through a thick, low-growing birch wood.
To a proposal made by General Campan (who was to attack the fleches) to lead his division through the woods, Napoleon agreed, though the so-called Duke of Elchingen (Ney) ventured to remark that a movement through the woods was dangerous and might disorder the division.
In the disposition it is said first that the batteries placed on the spot chosen by Napoleon, with the guns of Pernetti and Fouche; which were to come in line with them, 102 guns in all, were to open fire and shower shells on the Russian fleches and redoubts.
The booming cannonade and the fusillade of musketry were growing more intense over the whole field, especially to the left where Bagration's fleches were, but where Pierre was the smoke of the firing made it almost impossible to distinguish anything.
On the field between Borodino and the fleches, beside the wood, the chief action of the day took place on an open space visible from both sides and was fought in the simplest and most artless way.
The soldiers of Dessaix's division advancing against the fleches could only be seen till they had entered the hollow that lay between them and the fleches.
But not only was it impossible to make out what was happening from where he was standing down below, or from the knoll above on which some of his generals had taken their stand, but even from the fleches themselves--in which by this time there were now Russian and now French soldiers, alternately or together, dead, wounded, alive, frightened, or maddened-- even at those fleches themselves it was impossible to make out what was taking place.
Despite news of the capture of the fleches, Napoleon saw that this was not the same, not at all the same, as what had happened in his former battles.
When Scherbinin came galloping from the left flank with news that the French had captured the fleches and the village of Semenovsk, Kutuzov, guessing by the sounds of the battle and by Scherbinin's looks that the news was bad, rose as if to stretch his legs and, taking Scherbinin's arm, led him aside.