Treasures of the "great army"
For the first time the story that Napoleon “buried” the loot in Moscow was good at the bottom of the lake, was told by the French general de Segur and the English writer Walter Scott. They say that when the "great army" was retreating, numerous wagons with precious metals and stones followed her. According to the calculations of specialists, who conducted an “inventory” some time after Napoleon captured Moscow, the French took out about 20 pounds of gold, more than 300 pounds of silver, countless precious stones, church accessories, furs and weapons from the city. Moreover, they also hanged on them the disappearance of a gilded cross from the bell tower of Ivan the Great, as well as the disappearance of the Kremlin's two-headed eagle.
It is precisely known that the caravan left Moscow burned and ravaged. But now all this good never got to Paris - it perished somewhere. At this calmed down.
True, not for long. The fact is that already in 1824, General de Ségur published his memoirs about the Russian campaign. By themselves, they did not represent anything interesting. But! There was one phrase that firmly stuck in the minds of those who like to profit from the treasures: “I had to throw in the Lake Semlyovskoe booty taken from Moscow: guns, ancient weapons, decorations of the Kremlin and the cross from the Ivan the Great Bell Tower”. Scott added fuel to the fire and wrote the following in the biography of the French emperor: “He ordered that Moscow's booty — ancient armor, cannons and a large cross from Ivan the Great — be thrown into the Semlyovskoye Lake as trophies ... which he could not carry with him” .
The creation of Scott in 1835 was in the hands of the then governor of Smolensk Nikolai Khmelnitsky. And the official, of course, decided to find the treasure. Interestingly, he did not devote anyone to his plans, he went in search of one. For about a month, an official floundered in a forest lake near the village of Semlevo, but failed to find anything.
Failure Khmelnitsky forced for some time to forget about the treasures of Napoleon. They remembered them only in 1911. Then the members of the Vyazemsky Committee resolved the question of how best to perpetuate the memory of the Patriotic War of 1812. And they invented - to find the treasure hidden by the aggressor. A whole delegation studied the lake far and wide. They found the remains of rotten carts, horse bones, even the rusty saber of that era ... In general, anything but jewels.
Then in search again followed a break, stretching for half a century - the time was corny. First civil war, then the Second World War. When the situation in the country stabilized, the treasure was remembered again.
First, in 1960, and then in 1979, two scientific expeditions went alternately to Lake Semlevskoe. Specialists of various stripes, having shown meticulousness, studied everything. Starting from the coastal soil, ending with the chemical composition of water. But they waited for failure. And in the findings there were only stones and rubbish. And then the logical question appeared on the agenda: was there a boy, in the sense of a treasure?
You can, of course, believe in the word of a French general, but who can guarantee that he did not lie or not confuse? After all, he could call the Semlevo lake another reservoir, which in the beginning of the 19th century was quite a lot in the territory of Smolensk province. It is possible that de Ségur meant some swamp or pond. In addition, he definitely didn’t have time to determine his location with one hundred percent accuracy - the Russian troops literally breathed in the back. Therefore, the French could throw off the loot as they retreat.
Incidentally, Mikhail Kutuzov also indirectly confirms this in his memoirs: “The enemy, in his flight, leaves transports, blows up boxes with shells and leaves the treasures stolen from the temples of God.” According to historians, frightened, tired French in a panic threw loot in the territory from Maloyaroslavets to Berezina. This opinion was again pushed by the field marshal: “The old Smolensk road was strewn with valuables, a good deal was dumped into the rivers. All Russia was turning into a huge, endless "Semlyovskoe lake", dragging the "great army" and its previously undefeated emperor to the bottom. "
But to the words of Scott, as many historians believe, should not be taken seriously. The Scottish writer did not come to Russia by the hand of Napoleon, but he wrote a book based on archival documents and the recollections of soldiers. Therefore, he, most likely, simply rewrote the version of de Segur - it is also beautiful and romantic.
By the way, according to Victor Mikhailovich Bezotosny, a military historian, doctor of historical sciences, there has never been a treasure in that lake. In his opinion, most of the good was repulsed by the Cossacks during their numerous raids on the battered French army. And what was left, Napoleon, quite possibly, had buried somewhere near the Belarusian Orsha. He also has a second version, which is also quite viable - this is the Ponarskaya Mountain, which is not far from modern Vilnus. There, the French, along with the Russian soldiers who came to the rescue, forgot that they were fighting and began to jointly plunder the wagons. Here is what the incident is said in the 1911 Encyclopedia “The Patriotic War and the Russian Society”: “At the same time, the persecutors joined the persecuted and took part in the robbery. We saw Russians and French who had forgotten about the war and robbed the same box together. Lost 10,000,000 gold and silver! ” So, it is possible that the treasures of Napoleon disappeared already then. And the treasure hunters for two hundred years were looking for just a beautiful legend.