Home  »  Poems of Places An Anthology in 31 Volumes  »  The Battle of Eylau

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Germany: Vols. XVII–XVIII. 1876–79.


The Battle of Eylau

By Isaac McLellan (1806–1899)

  • Fought in Prussian Poland, between the allied Prussian and Russian armies, against the French, under Napoleon, February, 1807. “Never was a spectacle so dreadful as the field of battle presented on the following morning. Above fifty thousand men lay, in the space of two leagues, weltering in blood. The wounds were, for the most part, of the severest kind, from the extraordinary quantity of cannon-balls which had been discharged during the action, and the close proximity of the contending masses to the deadly batteries, which spread grape at half-musket-shot through the ranks.”—Alison’s Europe.

  • FAST and furious falls the snow;

    Shrilly the bleak tempests blow,

    With a sound of wailing woe,

    O’er the soil;

    Where the watch-fires blaze around,

    Thick the warriors strew the ground,

    Each in weary slumber bound,

    Worn with toil.

    Hearken to the cannon-blast!

    Drums are beating fierce and fast:

    Fierce and fast the trumpets cast

    Warning call.

    Form the battle’s stern parade,

    Charge the musket, draw the blade;

    Square and column stand arrayed,

    One and all.

    On they rush in stern career,

    Dragoon and swart cuirassier;

    Hussar-lance and Cossack-spear

    Clanging meet!

    Now the grenadier of France

    Sinks beneath the Imperial lance;

    Now the Prussian horse advance,

    Now retreat.

    Davoust, with his line of steel,

    Storms their squadrons till they reel,

    While his ceaseless cannon-peal

    Rends the sky.

    ’Gainst that crush of iron hail

    Naught may Russia’s ranks avail;

    Like the torn leaves in the gale,

    See, they fly!

    Through the battle’s smoky gloom

    Shineth Murat’s snowy plume:

    Fast his cohorts to their doom

    Spur the way.

    Platoff, with his desert horde,

    Is upon them with the sword;

    Deep his Tartar-spears have gored

    Their array.

    With his thousands, Augereau

    Paints with blood the virgin snow:

    Low in war’s red overthrow

    Sleep they on!

    Helm and breastplate they have lost,

    Spoils that long shall be the boast

    Of the savage-bearded host

    Of the Don.

    Charge, Napoleon! Where be those

    At Marengo quelled thy foes;

    Crowning thee at Jena’s close


    At this hour of deadly need

    Faintly thy old guardsmen bleed;

    Vain dies cuirassier and steed,

    Drenched with gore.


    Sad the frosty moonbeam shone

    O’er the snows with corses strown,

    Where the frightful shriek and groan

    Rose amain:

    Loud the night-wind rang their knell;

    Fast the flaky horrors fell,

    Hiding in their snowy cell

    Heaps of slain!

    Many a year hath passed and fled

    O’er that harvest of the dead:

    On thy rock the Chief hath sped,

    St. Helene!

    Still the Polish peasant shows

    The round hillocks of the foes,

    Where the long grass rankly grows,

    Darkly green.