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Russian Campaign of 1812, Imago Mundi: The International Journal for the History of Cartography

Russian Campaign of 1812, Imago Mundi: The International Journal for the History of Cartography
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  This article was downloaded by: [Anders Engberg-Pedersen]On: 03 December 2013, At: 11:08Publisher: RoutledgeInforma Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registered office: MortimerHouse, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK Imago Mundi: The International Journal for theHistory of Cartography Publication details, including instructions for authors and subscription information: Sketching War: August von Larisch’s Collection of Field Maps from the Russian Campaign of 1812 Anders Engberg-PedersenPublished online: 29 Nov 2014. To cite this article:  Anders Engberg-Pedersen (2014) Sketching War: August von Larisch’s Collection of Field Maps from theRussian Campaign of 1812, Imago Mundi: The International Journal for the History of Cartography, 66:1, 70-81 To link to this article: PLEASE SCROLL DOWN FOR ARTICLETaylor & Francis makes every effort to ensure the accuracy of all the information (the “Content”) containedin the publications on our platform. 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Terms & Conditions of access and use can be found at  Sketching War: August von Larisch ’ s Collection of Field Mapsfrom the Russian Campaign of 1812 ANDERS ENGBERG-PEDERSEN ABSTRACT: During the Napoleonic Wars the military croquis, or sketch map, played an important role in thespatial management of the various campaigns. Presumably, many of these sketch maps were destroyed ordiscarded after their immediate use. Those that survive have received little scholarly notice. Attention isdrawn in this article to a large and well-documented collection produced during the campaign in Russia in1812 and subsequently amassed by the Saxon cartographer Ferdinand Heinrich August von Larisch. Theoperational value of the military croquis is examined and the relationship between cartographic poetics andhistorical representation considered.KEYWORDS: Military cartography, sketch maps, fragments, Russian campaign of 1812, Saxony, FerdinandHeinrich August von Larisch, cartographic poetics, chronotopes, historical representation.The map library in the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlinholds an unusual collection of military sketch mapsdrawn during the French advance into Russia in1812. 1 It is an unusually large and well-documentedarchive, and the survival of the fragile sketches isdue to the careful work of the Saxon topographerand sapper Ferdinand Heinrich August von Larisch.Larisch compiled a rather fragmented narrative ofthe events of 1812 that was based on the materialhe had subsequently amassed from his comrades aswell as on the diary he kept during the campaign.Faced with a cartographic puzzle, he attempted tounite the disparate drawings into a single map ofthe Saxon invasion of Russia that is now held bythe Hauptstaatsarchiv in Dresden. The Larisch col-lection is noteworthy not only because it is so welldocumented, but also because his project raises anumber of questions regarding the relationship between cartographical poetics and historical repre-sentation. This article describes the archive andexplains the nature and importance of the hum- ble-looking and seemingly inconsequential militarysketches. 2 The Larisch Collection On 13 March 1812, some 21,387 men and 7,173horses set out from the town of Guben in LowerLusatia to march toward Poland. This was PrinceFriedrich August ’ s regiment — the so-called Saxoncontingent of Napoleon ’ s  Grande Armée , which wasunder the immediate command of LieutenantGeneral Karl Ludwig Edler von Lecoq and the super-ior command of General Count Jean Louis EbénézerReynier. 3 Among the soldiers was a certainFerdinand Heinrich August von Larisch, a 29-year-old 󿬁 rstlieutenantwhoalreadyhadalongcareerasamilitarytopographerbehindhim.Hehadenteredthecadet corps in Dresden in 1796, where he had comeunder the tutelage of Johann Georg Lehmann, 4 Dr Anders Engberg-Pedersen is associate professor of comparative literature in the Department for the Study ofCulture at the University of Southern Denmark, Odense. Correspondence to: A. Engberg-Pedersen, Madvigs Allé 5,4th, 1829 Frederiksberg, Denmark. E-mail: Imago Mundi   Vol. 66, Part 1: 70 – 81© 2013 Anders Engberg-Pedersen ISSN 0308-5694 print/1479-7801 online    D  o  w  n   l  o  a   d  e   d   b  y   [   A  n   d  e  r  s   E  n  g   b  e  r  g  -   P  e   d  e  r  s  e  n   ]  a   t   1   1  :   0   8   0   3   D  e  c  e  m   b  e  r   2   0   1   3  whose invention of hachures as a means of depictingsloping terrain came to have a profound effect onmilitary cartography. 4 By assisting Lehmann in hiscartographicwork,Larischquicklybecameanexperi-enced topographer in his own right, and in the dec-ade leading up to the campaign in Russia in 1812 heperformed military surveys for Germanand Austriantopographical bureaus.Once Prince Friedrich August ’ s regiment set outtoward Russia, Larisch came under the commandof Count Louis Alexandre Andrault de Langeron,whom he served as topographer and head of sap-pers. During the campaign, the Saxon regimentoperated on the right  󿬂 ank of the main Frencharmy and was thus not involved in the attack onMoscow, having advanced only as far as Belorussia[Belarus] by the time the retreat from Russia hadstarted. 5 Larisch was among the few survivors ofthat disastrous campaign.While the army possessed a few small-scale gen-eral maps of these territories — for example, DavidGilly ’ s  Special-Karte von Südpreußen , 1802 – 1803, andFriedrich Leopold von Schrötter ’ s  Karte von Ost-Preussen nebst Preussisch Litthauen und West-Preussennebst dem Netzdistrict  , 1802, both on the scale of1:150,000 — their lack of detailed large-scale mapssuitable for military purposes meant that informa-tion about local conditions had to be acquired on adaily basis. 6 It is the record of these attempts that iscontained in a number of folders in theStaatsbibliothek zu Berlin. Scattered in apparentlyrandom order, the sketches constitute a corpus ofcartographical material that adds up to 86 reconnais-sance sketches, reductions and copies at differentscales, and drawings of the terrain of present-dayPoland, Belorussia and Ukraine, on which weremarked roads suitable for convoys. Much of thismaterial had been lying on a  󿬂 oor for several years before Larisch gathered it up, and many of thesketches are torn or damaged in other ways.Nevertheless, a good portion is fairly well preserved.Accompanying the cartographical material is adocument dating from 1831 entitled  ‘ Entwurf zurBearbeitung einer Charte des Kriegsschauplatzesdes 7ten Armeekorps — das ist, der Königl.Sächsischen Truppen 1812 in Polen ’  [Outline forthe Editing of a Map that depicts the Theatre ofWar of the 7th Army Corps — viz. the Royal SaxonTroops in 1812 in Poland]. 7 Here, in four hand-written pages, Larisch attempted to provide atextual explanation of the disparate fragments he hadassembled. In addition, he drew a  ‘ Chartenskizze ’ , asketch of all thematerials to serveas avisual aid.The Chartenskizze thus records 127 miles ofreconnoitred convoy roads, marked in red, mappedto a uniform scale, and another 119 miles of recon-noitred convoy roads and river valleys mapped ondifferent scales, marked in crimson (Fig. 1). It alsooutlines, in grey, some 250 to 260 square miles ofterrain covered by the initial reconnaissancesketches and the copies made of them at srcinalor reduced scale. In addition, Larisch noted that thematerial he had collected contained a number offragments that did not appear to  󿬁 t anywhere andthat he would attempt to categorize as his workprogressed.A representative sample of the individual piecesof Larisch ’ s cartographical puzzle gives an indica-tion of the character of the sketches and the statethey were in. Plate 4 presents one of the convoyroads in present-day Ukraine drawn by the topo-grapher Ludwig Bucher over the course of threedays and pieced together by Larisch from two sep-arate sketches. Most sketches have no written mar-ginalia, but occasionally they contain a detailedtextual explanation, as on Johann FranzPloedterl ’ s reconnaissance sketch of 29 August1812 (Plate 5). As stated on the drawing, the sap-per-miner ’ s main concern was to indicate the pos-sibilities for the movement of troops andequipment: bridges, roads, marshes and bodies ofwater are the key factors on the ground that mostdirectly assist or hinder troop movement.The core task of military leaders was to  󿬁 nd a waythrough such obstacles by way of what the Prussiantopographer Rühle von Lilienstern later called  ‘ ter-rain chicanes ’  and to ensure the mobility of thearmy. 8 Since Larisch was in charge of all topogra-phers and sappers-miners, he was not only occupiedwith the symbolic construction of this sort of spaceon maps, but also contributed to its realizationthrough his involvement in the building, repairingor destruction of bridges and roads. Accordingly,Ploedterl ’ s written commentary on his sketchfocused mainly on the number of bridges and theircondition — and whether the enemy had transformeda path into an obstacle course and what alternativelines of advance the troops might follow.On the same day that Ploedterl was sketching,Larisch made a larger sketch on which he tooadded comments regarding the condition of theterrain and the different degrees of dif 󿬁 culty withwhich it could be traversed. Mostly, however, thesketches in his collection lack marginalia, and it isoften impossible to place the depicted localitywithin the larger territory, as Larisch himself Imago Mundi   66:1 2014  Field Maps from the Russian Campaign of 1812  71    D  o  w  n   l  o  a   d  e   d   b  y   [   A  n   d  e  r  s   E  n  g   b  e  r  g  -   P  e   d  e  r  s  e  n   ]  a   t   1   1  :   0   8   0   3   D  e  c  e  m   b  e  r   2   0   1   3  realized. Moreover, some of the sketches have beenreused several times, on each occasion with a dif-ferent orientation and without internal coherence,as in Plate 3. The Conditioned Map In general terms, the military maps producedaround 1800 can be placed along a representa-tional spectrum that runs from the ideal map tothe actual map, that is, one that could feasibly be produced under war conditions. In 1803 theFrench topographer and general Pierre AlexandreJoseph Allent distinguished the two extremes inhis  ‘ Essai sur les reconnaissances militaires ’ . First,he said, there is the map produced on a scienti 󿬁 c basis with the aid of several levels of triangulation.But, he claimed, ces levés et ces mémoires exigent beaucoup d ’ art, dutemps, des dépenses, et sur-tout un pays dont on soitmaître. Si toutes ces conditions ne sont pas réunies, leslevés et les mémoires ne peuvent plus atteindre à cetteperfection, les procédés deviennent approximatifs, lesdessins se changent en esquisse, et les descriptions nesont plus que des  reconnaissances. [such surveys and memoires involve a high degree ofartistic skill, much time and expense and, above all, acountry that is under your control. Unless all theseconditions are met, neither the surveys nor the mem-oirs can reach the desired perfection, procedures become approximations, drawings are transformedinto sketches, and the descriptions are no more thanreconnaissances] . 9 Fig. 1. Ferdinand Heinrich August von Larisch ’ s overview map of the fragmented cartographical material he had collected.33 × 41 cm. Ink and colour on paper. As indicated in the top left corner, surveyed roads are marked in red, roads suitablefor convoys in crimson, and grey shading indicates the areas that had been reconnoitred. The sheet is entitled ‘ Chartenskizze der Materialien ’  and accompanied Larisch ’ s  ‘ Entwurf zur Bearbeitung einer Charte desKriegsschauplatzes des 7ten Armeekorps ’  [Outline for the Editing of a Map that depicts the Theatre of War of the 7thArmy Corps] (1831). Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin, Kartenabteilung, V 31167. (Reproduced with permission from theStaatsbibliothek zu Berlin.) 72  A. Engberg-Pedersen Imago Mundi   66:1 2014    D  o  w  n   l  o  a   d  e   d   b  y   [   A  n   d  e  r  s   E  n  g   b  e  r  g  -   P  e   d  e  r  s  e  n   ]  a   t   1   1  :   0   8   0   3   D  e  c  e  m   b  e  r   2   0   1   3  In other words, a sketch is the product of circum-stances in which the actual state of the technical, 󿬁 nancial and military possibilities has to be takeninto consideration. 10 Obviously, maps are alwaysconditioned by such external factors, but militarymapping is an extreme case. As Larisch ’ s contem-porary, the British cartographer and military histor-ian William Siborne, noted, the military sketch is  ‘ ahurried and imperfect delineation of the generalcharacter and most important features of a coun-try ’ , and it is  ‘ dashed off with all the rapidity whichthe most practised skill can command ’ . 11 While accuracy remained important, the maintask of the military sketch maker was to providesuf 󿬁 cient spatial knowledge for the commander todecide on his tactics. Reconnaissance sketchingshould therefore not  ‘ devolve into micrology ’ , asKarl von Decker, director of one of the Prussiantopographical bureaus, put it a few years later. 12 Often local conditions would automatically hinderthe recording of unnecessary detail, and in the pre-sence of the enemy there was usually time to takedown only the key features of the terrain. Larisch ’ sfellow topographer, Ingenieur-Hauptmann Geise,was captured by the Russians while reconnoitring. 13 As a precaution, the topographers in the 7thRegiment would sometimes carry out their recon-naissance missions after nightfall. As Larischexplained on another of his sketches in somewhatshaky French, he had had to carry out part of hisreconnaissance during the night (Fig. 2). La partie de Serniki jusqu ’  à Golab est fait pendant lanuit, mais je suis sur, le Charactère de cette contréeest: La grande Route a une direction égale, le cheminest bien élevé et dur, les ponts sont restitués, et leterrain est excessive marécagé et porte des arbres: Lespetits Chemins pour Beresk, et du Niemir jusqu ’  à lagrande Route est très marécagés[The area between Serniki and Golab was recon-noitred during the night, but I am sure the characterof the countryside here is: the highway is straight, itssurface is high and solid, the bridges have beenrepaired, and the ground excessively marshy withtrees; the smaller roads to Beresk and from Niemir tothe highway is very marshy].Fig.2. Reconnoitringwas oftena dangeroustask.Toavoidcapture orthe enemy ’ sbullets, topographerswouldsometimesusethe cover ofdarkness. Part ofthis reconnaissance sketch planof an area in the southeasterncornerof present-day Poland wascarried out during the night by Larisch himself. 19 × 29 cm. Ink and colour on paper. Although Larisch ’ s French is somewhatshaky, in the legend he assures us of the accuracy of the sketch. Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin, Kartenabteilung, V 31167.(Reproduced with permission from the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin.) Imago Mundi   66:1 2014  Field Maps from the Russian Campaign of 1812  73    D  o  w  n   l  o  a   d  e   d   b  y   [   A  n   d  e  r  s   E  n  g   b  e  r  g  -   P  e   d  e  r  s  e  n   ]  a   t   1   1  :   0   8   0   3   D  e  c  e  m   b  e  r   2   0   1   3
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