As a bleeding, mortally wounded animal licks its wounds, they remained inert in Moscow for five weeks, and then suddenly, with no fresh reason, fled back: they made a dash for the Kaluga road, and (after a victory--for at Malo- Yaroslavets the field of conflict again remained theirs) without undertaking a single serious battle, they fled still more rapidly back to Smolensk, beyond Smolensk, beyond the Berezina, beyond Vilna, and farther still.
He remained in Moscow till October, letting the troops plunder the city; then, hesitating whether to leave a garrison behind him, he quitted Moscow, approached Kutuzov without joining battle, turned to the right and reached Malo-Yaroslavets, again without attempting to break through and take the road Kutuzov took, but retiring instead to Mozhaysk along the devastated Smolensk road.
It was Dokhturov again whom they sent to Forminsk and from there to Malo-Yaroslavets, the place where the last battle with the French was fought and where the obvious disintegration of the French army began; and we are told of many geniuses and heroes of that period of the campaign, but of Dokhturov nothing or very little is said and that dubiously.
Dokhturov went to Malo- Yaroslavets, but Kutuzov lingered with the main army and gave orders for the evacuation of Kaluga--a retreat beyond which town seemed to him quite possible.
Napoleon's historians describe to us his skilled maneuvers at Tarutino and Malo-Yaroslavets, and make conjectures as to what would have happened had Napoleon been in time to penetrate into the rich southern provinces.
So it came about that at the council at Malo-Yaroslavets, when the generals pretending to confer together expressed various opinions, all mouths were closed by the opinion uttered by the simple-minded soldier Mouton who, speaking last, said what they all felt: that the one thing needful was to get away as quickly as possible; and no one, not even Napoleon, could say anything against that truth which they all recognized.
The day after the council at Malo-Yaroslavets Napoleon rode out early in the morning amid the lines of his army with his suite of marshals and an escort, on the pretext of inspecting the army and the scene of the previous and of the impending battle.
The retreat from Malo-Yaroslavets when he had a free road into a well- supplied district and the parallel road was open to him along which Kutuzov afterwards pursued him--this unnecessary retreat along a devastated road--is explained to us as being due to profound considerations.