Life of a Soldier

Noël Lucky Chevalier was a soldier serving in Napoleons arm in the 1800s. This is his journey through several campaigns he fought.
This is my entry for the Historical Fiction Contest

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4. December 11th, 1805

Victory again! Though this time I wish I could celebrate as elaborately as before. With a wounded leg, I am stranded to crutches. I guess I should explain how it all came about to you… but not to my wife, Mary, she’ll freak out once she hears that I’m wounded. She won’t let me out of her sight; she’ll demand me home straight away….

                It all started when Napoleon decided to go fight the Russians. The battlefield he chose was by a village called Austerlitz. It was by a countryside which was gently sloping, known as the Pratzen Heights. We controlled the Pratzen Heights for a while, which is strategically important in a battle, if you know anything about it at all.

                But even if we had control of the Heights, my thoughts were: ‘how will we ever fight off these 70 000 Russian soldiers?!’

                That night, December 2, 1805, the middle of winter, Napoleon went around to his soldiers yelling: “Long live the Emperor!” In response, we shouted back, “Long live the Emperor!” he waved flaming torches. I even heard him say to his assistant,” This is the finest evening of my life.” No wonder, since his coronation was exactly a year ago. All my doubts were erased, I just told myself, “Listen to Napoleon, he knows what he’s doing.”

                The next morning it was chilly with an incredibly fog. We could barely see 10 steps in front of us.

                My doubts came back as Napoleon handed over the sloping ground to the Russians… which was not the smartest move on his part.

                I was part of two groups of 17 000 men to go at the bottom of the hills. We were on the right side, the other group on the left. Everyone was tired; they all struggled, even though we did get reinforcements from Vienna, though they admitted they were exhausted because of their hurry to get here in time.

                We didn’t have to do much, waiting at the bottom. We all sat on the ground, talking about our family back at home. That is, until the fog cleared up, then we all stood up, mounted our horses and acted all business like. The Russians were sure surprised though, they thought we were weak, when we were strong!

                As early as 9:30 in the morning we controlled the Heights! I was really excited, so excited I wasn’t paying much attention, you see. At around 10 in the morning I was busy fighting and all, but then someone started attacking me from the back. He had a gun in his hand, shot me twice in my left leg, one in the arm. I fell of my horse from the impact. He was about to finish my off, but then, one of my good buddies, he jumped in the way of the bullet. We were both rushed to the medical tents, went through surgery almost immediately.

                The battle ended around 5, I was drowsy from the drugs and such, but I heard the cheering. The Russians had retreated!

                The story isn’t all happy and cheery; in fact, 9 thousand French men were either killed or wounded at the final count. Rumor has it that the number was near doubled for the Russians though.

                The next day, we were all summoned to the meeting grounds of our camp. I can’t really remember it all, but parts stood out for me. “Soldiers, I am pleased with you… You will always be greeted with joy, and it will be enough for you to say, ‘I was at the battle of Austerlitz,’ and then people will reply, ‘there goes a great man’”.

                Now, a week later, I’m making plans to return home for the time being. But, I plan to return when I can walk with my own two legs, not with these crutches, I wouldn’t want Mary to worry about such a little thing.

                My leg and arm are such little things. Two of my good friends died, one is fighting death and two others slightly wounded, but enough to worry. The rest of them are fine, I am thankful for that. I thank God that He has watched us, and that I wasn’t so badly hurt. I feel bad though, why them and not me??

Noël

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