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Tolstoy, once again, opens this section of the novel with an elaborate analysis on the cause and effect of Napoleon’s exit from Russia. He finds it hard to believe that the French army, that had won many victorious battles against the Russians, lost hope and fled to their country. The crafty Napoleon and his soldiers could not challenge the same enemies they had overpowered sometime ago. To him, the whole process of warfare seems unethical. It is possible that the leaders of both nations waged war to ascertain their supremacy.
The Russians could succeed in their mission to defeat the French troops and drive them away from the Russian soil because they adopted ‘guerilla warfare.’ Lying in ambush, they could attack their enemy at the appropriate time, without being detected. The enemy soldiers were, thus, caught unawares and had to flee to save their skins. Denisov and Dolokhov are two of the officers who had trained their soldiers in this kind of warfare and succeeded in capturing many French soldiers as they moved towards Smolensk.
Denisov waits for Dolokhov between Mikulino and Shamshevo, to give him information about the position of the French army, before starting his operations. He also sends Tikhon , a sturdy peasant, to spy on the French camp and bring back a French Cassock to give them the right information. Tikhon returns back from his mission with his loot but not with the Cossack. Shortly afterwards, a young officer with a Cossack appears before Denisov to deliver a letter from the German General. The young officer is Petya Rostov. Denisov is happy to meet him and allows the boy to stay with him for the night. During the night, Petya talks about his intention of joining the army and confronting the enemy. In this youthful enthusiasm, he had fired his gun before his Commander had given the order and earned his ire. He had also stayed back with Denisov, without getting permission from his superior officer. He enjoys his meal with Denisov and the French prisoner.
The next day, Denisov walks with his soldiers and Petya, towards Shamshevo. He warns Petya from taking any action without his permission. However, on reaching the camp, Petya moves forward and gets ready for action. In the midst of the Russian soldiers attacking their enemy, Petya risks his life to face the French soldiers. In the process, he becomes the victim of bullets fired by the enemy. As Petya drops down dead, Dolokhov and Denisov leave the boy to march towards Smolensk. Here, they succeed in not only stopping the transport vehicles but also rescuing the Russian prisoners. Pierre is one of the prisoners rescued by them.
During the period of confinement, Pierre had undergone severe hardships. On their way to Smolensk, the prisoners had lived in inhuman conditions and treated rudely by the French officers. He had seen his Comrades struggling for their lives and dying on the road. However, Pierre had gained the moral strength to withstand the hardships and thus, could survive the ordeal. When Denisov and Dolokhov appear on the scene and save him, he is happy and relieved.