On September 2, 1812, John Quincy Adams, the American Ambassador in St Petersburg writes the following entry in his diary:
2d. Visited the Chevalier de Bezerra and his lady. He knew a few particulars from the army and the Emperor which I had not heard, and was uninformed of others which I told him. It appears, by all the accounts from the army, that after four days of very severe battle, in all of which the Russians were victorious they evacuated and set fire to Smolensk, and have since been constantly retreating, but the whole blame is laid upon the then Commander-in-Chief, Barclay de Tolly. The loss of the French in killed, wounded, prisoners, and artillery taken, was much greater than that of the Russians, and General Koutouzof arrived at the head-quarters last Saturday. He met on his way, and took back with him. General Benningsen, who is to command the first army in the room of Barclay de Tolly. Koutouzof is Commander-in-Chief of all the active armies. The Emperor Alexander has had his interview with the Prince Royal of Sweden (Bernadotte), at Abo, and is quite charmed with him.