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Napoleon  Part Two  session iv   Russia
Napoleon  Part Two  session iv   Russia
major topics for this sessionI. Two EmperorsII. Crossing the NiemenIII. BorodinoIV. MoscowV. RetreatVI. Crossing the Berez...
“A man has his day in war as in other things;I myself shall be good for it another six years,    after which even I shall ...
I. Two Emperors
First meeting at Tilsit, July 1807I. Two Emperors
“But when the Tsar of all the Russias,the commander-in-chief of threemillion horse-guards, foot-guards, life-guards and Co...
“Betrayal at Erfurt” --Asprey✦   September 1808-Napoleon, furious at the declining situation in Spain, determined that he ...
The Erfurt Convention, October 1808✦   both agreed that Britain was “their common enemy and the enemy of the    [European]...
The French Emperor hoped to keep the peace with Russia. NeedingAlexander’s support for his Continental System, he had put ...
“I shall have war withRussia on grounds that lie     beyond humanpossibilities, because they are rooted in the cause      ...
Did he mean that a clash of wills stemming from two expansionist policieswas inevitable? Was he thinking in terms of the p...
Napoleon’s relations with Czar Alexander were rapidly deteriorating….Heha increasingly regarded [Ambassador] Caulaincourt’...
Finally, the Continental System bore increasingly heavily upon England andcontinental Europe alike. To tighten its enforce...
“If the Russian czar does not  wish war, and if he does notstop these hostile moves, he will have one next year, despite m...
Both “cheat” on the Continental System✦   much to Napoleon’s anger, some of his corrupt officials in French ports, in his  ...
As for Alexander, he had decided on war sometime early in 1810. Taught bydefeat, he had decided to remain on the defensive...
“I shall not fire the first cannon, but I shall be the last to sheathe my         sword.”       Tsar Alexander to the French...
Perhaps the French historian Bainville demonstrated the crux of the matterwhen he wrote, “Napoleon went to Moscow in pursu...
With war with Russia increasingly inevitable, in 1811 Napoleon beganstocking large amounts of foodstuffs and munitions in ...
II. Crossing the    Niemen
II. Crossing the    Niemen
“Soldats!” opened the Imperial proclamation of 22 June 1812. “The secondPolish war has opened; the first ended at Friedland...
created by the French civil engineer Charles Joseph Minard, which ingeniously combined both a map of the campaignand a vis...
Napoleon heavily discounted Russia’s fighting capability, as well he mightconsidering his victories at Austerlitz and Fried...
RUSSIAN CAMPAIGN  Situation 23 June 1812, andNapoleon’s Advance Since 31 May
...huge efforts were made by Napoleon and his staff to provide an adequatesupply system. From the very beginning it was ap...
Entering Vilna early on the 28th after a brief skirmish, Napoleon orderedMurat was beating theBy late 24 June, Kovno was o...
Entering Vilna early on the 28th after a brief skirmish, Napoleon orderedMurat was beating theBy late 24 June, Kovno was o...
Napoleon’s principal worry was [his brother] Jerome’s lagging advance. He required intelligenceconcerning the Russian forc...
Napoleon was momentarily stymied, but not for long. If Bagration andBarclay had escaped defeat they could still be destroy...
Davout received Jerome’s resignation on 15 July. Shaken by such flat non-cooperation, he urged Jerome to reconsider…. In re...
At 0400 29still hesitated to decidedboldly against Barclay, for histo let the army closenot sufficientlyNapoleon July, Napo...
Meanwhile on 4 August, Bagration had closed up around Smolensk and gone energetically to workundermining Barclay’s authori...
Meanwhile on 4 August, Bagration had closed up around Smolensk and gone energetically to workundermining Barclay’s authori...
At about 1230 Napoleon launched a limited attack against Smolensk, apparently totest Barclay’s determination to defend it....
At about 1230 Napoleon launched a limited attack against Smolensk, apparently totest Barclay’s determination to defend it....
The Emperor by now was fully aware of the enormity of his undertaking.The farther he advanced, the greater it grew. So lon...
By 0400 20 August, he had ordered Muratand Davout to resume the pursuit.The French advanced in three columnsThoroughly sen...
!   1757-age 12 he went to the military engineer’s academy.                                                  Became fluent ...
Kutusov’s appointment had been forced onAlexander (between whom and Kutusovthere was open dislike) by the frightenedRussia...
A major problem for the whole Grande Armée was the disastrousrate of losses among the horses, more from disease, fatigue a...
III. Borodino
III. Borodino
Franz Alekseyevich Roubaud was a Ukrainian painter who created some of the largest and bestknown panoramic paintings.Rouba...
Semenovsky village
Battle for Semenovsky ravine
Hand-to-hand fighting
French positions
Westphalian Cuirassiers
Attack of the Saxon Cuirassiers
Cavalry fight on the rye field
Russian cavalry counter-attacks
Russian reserves
Semenovsky village        where we beganNow, let’s examine each panel           in detail
detail from  panel 3
Napoleon
Murat
details
detail from  panel 7
details
Napoleon at Borodino Heights, Vasili   Vereschagin
Borodino has been magnified---largely through Tolstoy’s fiction---into anapocalyptic struggle. Losses were heavy---between 2...
French soldiers are not easily deceived; and these wondered why, with somany Russians killed and wounded, there should be ...
IV. Moscow
IV. Moscow
Vowing to defend Moscow to the last, Kutusov retreated rapidly toward that city. Leaving Junot onthe [Borodino] battlefield...
Since both sides were anxious to spare the city, a verbal agreement was reached: the Russians were towithdraw unmolested, ...
Marshal Duroc was still sorting out imperial headquarters in the luxuriousrooms of the Kremlin when arsonists put match to...
“This is no time for   faintheartedness!  Let us swear to bedoubly courageous and     persevering!”  Alexander’s proclamat...
...the Czar…[showed] himself in his speeches as great as the misfortune.  “The enemy is in a capital as empty as a tomb, w...
V. Retreat
V. Retreat
Marshal Ney in the retreat
...Ney’s method of retreat, the one he had observed since leaving Viazma onthe third of November, that is, for thirty-seve...
Napoleon’s step son Eugene Beauharnais gave Kutusov a bloodynose at Maloyaroslavets on 23-24 October.
At Maloyaroslavets, there was soul-searching in both headquarters.Kutusov, with...little confidence in his new troops after...
“…. But most horrible was the field of Borodino, where we saw the fortythousand men who had perished there, yet lying unbur...
“…. But most horrible was the field of Borodino, where we saw the fortythousand men who had perished there, yet lying unbur...
Only a few days later [4 Nov] the favorable weather turned to a storm thatcovered the troops with snow and the roads with ...
Only a few days later [4 Nov] the favorable weather turned to a storm thatcovered the troops with snow and the roads with ...
“Understand that the foundation of an army is the belly. It is necessary to procurenourishment for the soldier wherever yo...
As a soldier, Napoleon had touched his lowest ebb. Traveling near the headof the army, in the middle of his Guard, he at t...
Napoleon reached Smolensk on 9 November, and found bad news...orderedthe Guard issued 15 days rations and the other units ...
An immensity of woe stretched out before us. We were going to marchforty days more [from Smolensk] under the weight of thi...
VI. Crossing the    Berezina
VI. Crossing the    Berezina
from50,000   to28,000
Orsha had been the salvation of the French army. Its commanding officer and administrativestaff were capable and determined...
Oudinot meanwhile had marched on Borisov with the II Corps and part ofDombrowski’s division….The Russians just managed to ...
Before dawn on 26 November, Napoleon massed Oudinot’s guns on the low ridge behindStudenka. At 0800 Polish lancers rode in...
The vehicular bridge was finished at 1600; all available artillery was pushed acrossas fast as it came up. At 2000 (8 pm) t...
At 0200 27 November, the vehicular bridge broke again; Eblé took the other half of hismen into the wreckage, got traffic mo...
28 November
Victor had skillfully organized the Studenka ridge, his weak south flank beingsupported by guns massed on the west bank. Wi...
Alarmed by this firing, the stragglers rushed the bridges, blocking themrepeatedly, but at dusk those who had not crossed c...
In more senses than one, Napoleon had snatched an outstanding victory out of his worst defeat. TheGrande Armée might be dy...
His army too weak for another battle, Napoleon orderedVilna prepared to resupply it.Winter was the deadly enemy. The tempe...
Now the irregulars and Cossacks came into their own: hardyfrontiersmen, they endured where Russian regulars perished.Highl...
Bad News from France, paintingdepicting Napoleon encamped in aRussian Orthodox church (VasilyVereshchagin, part of his ser...
Smorgony
[At Smorgony the Emperor had told his assembled marshals]”I no longer feelstrong enough to leave all Prussia between mysel...
Traveling in his usual whirlwind fashion, Napoleon reentered Paris on 18December--E & E By the time he reached Rovnopol, t...
Napoleon had attempted a campaign beyond his means. The forces involvedwere too great, the spaces across which they operat...
Time was to show that the decision to invade Russia constituted theirrevocable step which effectively compromised any rema...
In the last analysis, Napoleon’s defeat can be explained in terms of twocircumstances. First a general decline in the qual...
Alameda, Spain,                                                             29th December 1812,...The successes of the Rus...
Napoleon Part 2 sess iv Russia
Napoleon Part 2 sess iv Russia
Napoleon Part 2 sess iv Russia
Napoleon Part 2 sess iv Russia
Napoleon Part 2 sess iv Russia
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Napoleon Part 2 sess iv Russia
Napoleon Part 2 sess iv Russia
Napoleon Part 2 sess iv Russia
Napoleon Part 2 sess iv Russia
Napoleon Part 2 sess iv Russia
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Napoleon Part 2 sess iv Russia
Napoleon Part 2 sess iv Russia
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Napoleon Part 2 sess iv Russia
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Napoleon Part 2 sess iv Russia
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Napoleon Part 2 sess iv Russia
Napoleon Part 2 sess iv Russia
Napoleon Part 2 sess iv Russia
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Napoleon's 1812 Russian campaign

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Transcript of "Napoleon Part 2 sess iv Russia"

  1. 1. Napoleon Part Two session iv Russia
  2. 2. Napoleon Part Two session iv Russia
  3. 3. major topics for this sessionI. Two EmperorsII. Crossing the NiemenIII. BorodinoIV. MoscowV. RetreatVI. Crossing the Berezina
  4. 4. “A man has his day in war as in other things;I myself shall be good for it another six years, after which even I shall have to stop.” --Napoleon at Austerlitz 1805
  5. 5. I. Two Emperors
  6. 6. First meeting at Tilsit, July 1807I. Two Emperors
  7. 7. “But when the Tsar of all the Russias,the commander-in-chief of threemillion horse-guards, foot-guards, life-guards and Cossacks, begins to talksweetly of brotherly love, it is time fordecent people to look to their guns.” --HENDRIK WILLEM VAN LOON
  8. 8. “Betrayal at Erfurt” --Asprey✦ September 1808-Napoleon, furious at the declining situation in Spain, determined that he needed to shore up his relations with Russia before setting matters right there✦ he invited Tsar Alexander to the French Imperial city of Erfurt, approximately half way between St Petersburg and Paris ✦ The Principality of Erfurt became subordinate to Napoleon I as imperial state domain (domaine réservé à lempereur) after the defeat of Prussia in the Battle of Jena and Auerstedt, while the surrounding Thuringian states joined the Confederation of the Rhine.✦ he arranged a lavish series of entertainments to compliment the negotiations: ✦ Parisian chefs, furnishings, musical & theatrical performers, hunts and balls✦ but he made the serious error of involving Talleyrand in the negotiations. Instead of advancing Napoleon’s aims, he revealed to Alexander what Bonaparte’s reactions had been to the previous day’s discussions, “treachery of the highest degree [undoubtedly paid for by] Russian, Austrian and English gold”--Asprey✦ therefore the young tsar “dug in his heels” and refused to come under the older emperor’s political and personal dominance
  9. 9. The Erfurt Convention, October 1808✦ both agreed that Britain was “their common enemy and the enemy of the [European] continent”✦ they promised that neither would make a separate peace✦ Russia promised military support if Austria should attack France but refused to undertake restraining Austrian rearmament as Napoleon had wished✦ Russia remained suspicious of French intentions in Poland and resentful of French relations with their enemy, Ottoman Turkey✦ in addition to his frustration over Alexander’s refusal to restrain Austria, Napoleon was humiliated that Alexander demurred to offer one of his sisters as Joséphine’s replacement. The tsar had said that decision was not his, but his mother’s
  10. 10. The French Emperor hoped to keep the peace with Russia. NeedingAlexander’s support for his Continental System, he had put off with soft wordsall Polish pleas that he reform their semi-independent Duchy of Warsaw into afree Kingdom of Poland. This, Alexander insistently demanded that hepromise never to do. Napoleon had already blocked the constant, lemming-like[warm-water-port-seeking] westward expansion of the Russian empire. ButPoland had been the traditional keeper of Europe’s eastern borders againstAsian barbarism; worse, Poles could remember that Smolensk had once been aPolish frontier fortress. As a countermove against Napoleon’s influence in Poland, in 1810 Alexanderpushed a propaganda campaign throughout the Duchy of Warsaw, urging thereunification of Poland under his own personal rule. Russian troopsconcentrated along the Duchy’s eastern frontier, ready to advance if any sort ofpopular could be aroused for Alexander’s proposed client kingdom. Nodemand whatever developed, but the concentrations remained. Esposito & Elting, “INTRODUCTION TO THE RUSSIAN CAMPAIGN’, after MAP 106
  11. 11. “I shall have war withRussia on grounds that lie beyond humanpossibilities, because they are rooted in the cause itself” Napoleon to Austrian Count Metternich, autumn, 1810
  12. 12. Did he mean that a clash of wills stemming from two expansionist policieswas inevitable? Was he thinking in terms of the present or the near or farfuture? It is difficult to suggest an answer but it is obvious from the writtenrecord that from the autumn of 1810 onwards he was on a collision coursewith his eastern ally. Asprey, p. 209
  13. 13. Napoleon’s relations with Czar Alexander were rapidly deteriorating….Heha increasingly regarded [Ambassador] Caulaincourt’s long-winded reportsof the czar’s friendship, loyalty and desire for peace as camouflage forintended evil--and he was right. Caulaincourt was being duped. Alexander was not only trading openlywith enemy England, he was also working with Prince Czartoryski insetting the scene for rebellion in his favor in the Grand Duchy of Warsaw;he was secretly sounding out Austrian and Prussian courts as to a militaryalliance; he was secretly encouraging the Spanish central junta in Cádiz tocarry on its struggle against France. Asprey, pp. 226-227
  14. 14. Finally, the Continental System bore increasingly heavily upon England andcontinental Europe alike. To tighten its enforcement, Napoleon annexedHolland (1810) and various minor north German states. The latter includedOldenburg, a minuscule principality, the heir-apparent of which had marriedAlexander’s favorite sister. Alexander protested; Napoleon retorted that hewould recompense the displaced ruling family, but would keep its territory.Alexander (prodded by his merchants) raised his tariff on French wines andopened his ports to “neutral” (actually English) shipping. England, desperatefor allies, labored to capitalize on every Russian resentment against France. In 1811, Napoleon’s empire nevertheless seemed assured. In March, hisyoung wife gave birth to the long-desired heir the “King of Rome.” ButNapoleon was studying all available books on Russia, French garrisonsremained in the Prussian fortresses, French troops quietly massed betweenHamburg and Danzig, and spies came and went. Esposito & Elting, “INTRODUCTION TO THE RUSSIAN CAMPAIGN’, after MAP 106
  15. 15. “If the Russian czar does not wish war, and if he does notstop these hostile moves, he will have one next year, despite me despite himself, despite theinterests of France and Russia” Napoleon to the king of Würtemburg in Paris, 2 April, 1811
  16. 16. Both “cheat” on the Continental System✦ much to Napoleon’s anger, some of his corrupt officials in French ports, in his brother Louis’ Holland, and the North Sea German ports were selling licenses or “looking the other way” when “neutral” ships brought in British goods✦ Russia, aware of this, and badly hurt by losing their trade to Britain in naval stores (timber, hemp and tar) began to open her Baltic ports to such British trade as well✦ then Russian merchants sent a stream of British goods into “the Germanies”✦ British agents were bribing many of Alexander’s ministers to turn him against France✦ Napoleon’s plan “to win the war at sea on land” with his war on British trade first led him into the disastrous Peninsular War and now would provoke him into this catastrophic war on a second front
  17. 17. As for Alexander, he had decided on war sometime early in 1810. Taught bydefeat, he had decided to remain on the defensive militarily, but to employdiplomacy, subversion, and economic pressure aggressively everywhere. Thisthrew the onus for any open hostilities completely onto Napoleon--hence thepopular “historical” picture of a lovable liberal Czar, subjected to unprovokedassault by a squat little Corsican bounder.” Alexander was also consideringpeace with Turkey, and negotiating gingerly with England and Sweden.Bernadotte, now Crown Prince (and actually ruler) of Sweden, would join anyalliance against France, if promised Norway. Napoleon remained oddlypassive to these shifts, neither making a real effort to conciliate Bernadotte norsupplying the money and weapons needed to support Turkey’s war effort. Hedid not want war with Russia, but, as before, the thrill of an impendingcampaign was beginning to grip him. Esposito & Elting, “INTRODUCTION TO THE RUSSIAN CAMPAIGN’, after MAP 106
  18. 18. “I shall not fire the first cannon, but I shall be the last to sheathe my sword.” Tsar Alexander to the French ambassador,General Caulaincourt, on the threat of war with France. Vilna, May 1812
  19. 19. Perhaps the French historian Bainville demonstrated the crux of the matterwhen he wrote, “Napoleon went to Moscow in pursuit of the ghost of Tilsit.”Basically it was insatiable ambition, lust for power and a desire to regain theinternational position he had enjoyed in July 1807 that led Napoleon to makehis fatal decision. At Tilsit, Napoleon had drunk the heady wine of apparentlyconsummated success; one monarch of ancient lineage--the unfortunate kingof Prussia--had attended the conference in the role of helpless suppliant;another--the powerful Tsar of all the Russias--had been eager to reach afriendly accommodation with the adventurer of Corsican extraction…. Thishad represented Napoleon’s greatest hour, at least superficially. To allappearances he was then the … master of continental Europe. Chandler, pp. 739-740
  20. 20. With war with Russia increasingly inevitable, in 1811 Napoleon beganstocking large amounts of foodstuffs and munitions in depots between Danzigand Warsaw. His preps were thorough, far beyond those of any previouscampaign, but calculated to fit his intent to bring the Russian armies to battlein Western Russia and destroy them there. (That, oddly was what Alexanderplanned to do to the French. Eventually, Russian generals realized that theywere outsmarted and outnumbered, and so headed rapidly eastward--afterwards explaining that it was Alexander’s far seeing plan!) Col. John Elting, Swords Around A Throne, p. 566
  21. 21. II. Crossing the Niemen
  22. 22. II. Crossing the Niemen
  23. 23. “Soldats!” opened the Imperial proclamation of 22 June 1812. “The secondPolish war has opened; the first ended at Friedland and Tilsit. At Tilsit, Russiaswore eternal friendship with France and also war against England. Today shehas broken her undertakings! She will give no further explanation of herstrange behavior until the French eagles have again withdrawn behind theRhine, leaving our distant allies at her mercy. She will learn at her cost thather destiny must be fulfilled. Does she think us degenerate? Are we no longerthe soldiers of Austerlitz? She places us between dishonor and war; there canbe no doubt which course we shall choose. Forward then, let us cross theNiemen, so we can carry the war into her own territory. The second Polishwar will bring as much glory to French arms as did the first.” Chandler, p. 739
  24. 24. created by the French civil engineer Charles Joseph Minard, which ingeniously combined both a map of the campaignand a visual representation of the number of men remaining in Napoleon’s doomed army.  The thickness of the line isproportional to the number of men in the army (one millimeter equalling 10,000 men), with the beige sectionrepresenting the offensive toward Moscow, and the black line the retreat.  Below, Minard also included a second chartshowing the temperature on various days during the retreat (Minard used the Réaumur scale for his temperatures, aswas commonplace at the time.  Converted to Celsius, this makes the coldest part of the retreat a whopping −37.5 °C). 
  25. 25. Napoleon heavily discounted Russia’s fighting capability, as well he mightconsidering his victories at Austerlitz and Friedland. Nor would he be withoutallies. A secret treaty with Prussia signed in February guaranteed him 20,000troops, free passage of the country and logistic support for men and horses. Asecret treaty with Austria signed a month later provided for 30,000 troops toprotect his right flank in Poland. Davout’s army in Germany would soonmuster 200,000 men, Murat was coming from Naples in command of a secondarmy based on Stettin, General Junot would arrive from Italy with thevanguard of Viceroy Eugene’s army of 80,000. A Bavarian force also 80,000strong would be commanded by Gouvion St. Cyr. General Prince Poniatowskiwould command 60,000 Polish soldiers [perhaps Bonaparte’s most motivatedand loyal foreign troops, jbp], the other confederation states would provide70,000 more bodies--in all nearly 600,000 troops including the ImperialGuard, now a hefty 50,000. More French soldiers would soon arrive fromSpain, and another 120,000 conscripts were to be raised in France. Asprey, pp. 239-241
  26. 26. RUSSIAN CAMPAIGN Situation 23 June 1812, andNapoleon’s Advance Since 31 May
  27. 27. ...huge efforts were made by Napoleon and his staff to provide an adequatesupply system. From the very beginning it was appreciated that there wouldbe no chance of living off the countryside as in previous campaigns…. hefeared that the Russians might have recourse to a “scorched earth” policy….“without adequate transportation, everything will be useless.” Consequently,provision had to be made for the movement of vast quantities of fodder,biscuit, rice, vegetables and brandy, and the myriad other articles and storesthat the vast army would need…. For meat rations, vast herds of cattle andoxen were collected…. In round numbers, the Grande Armée was accompanied by no less than200,000 animals (to include the 30,000 horses of the artillery and the 80,000 ofthe cavalry), besides a total of some 25,000 vehicles, including the supplywagons, ammunition caissons, ambulances and other forms of conveyance.The problem of feeding so many animals would be acute, and there is smallwonder that the Emperor delayed the invasion date until that time of yearwhen the Russian plains would be holding their lushest crops of grass. Chandler, pp. 757-758
  28. 28. Entering Vilna early on the 28th after a brief skirmish, Napoleon orderedMurat was beating theBy late 24 June, Kovno was occupied, Ney had reached the bridges, and its organization as hisadvanced base. Vilna.country toward KOVNO VILNA RUSSIAN CAMPAIGN Situation 1 July 1812
  29. 29. Entering Vilna early on the 28th after a brief skirmish, Napoleon orderedMurat was beating theBy late 24 June, Kovno was occupied, Ney had reached the bridges, and its organization as hisadvanced base. Vilna.country toward DRISSAAfter considering an assortment ofplans...Alexander [had] finally adopted one KOVNOdrafted by Phull, a refugee Prussian officer.Under it, Barclay would cover the main VILNAroads to the two Russian capitals. Aftermeeting the first shock of the Frenchoffensive, he would retire slowly to thefortified camp at Drissa. Theoretically, theFrench army would arrive before that campconsiderably weakened by casualties anddetachments left behind to protect itscommunications. It would then be forcedeither to attack Barclay’s entrenched army orto retreat. Meanwhile, Bagration, reinforcedby all available Cossacks, would strike intothe French right rear. Tormassov wouldprotect Kiev against a possible Austrianadvance; if not attacked, he would movenorth. --Esposito & Elting RUSSIAN CAMPAIGN Situation 1 July 1812
  30. 30. Napoleon’s principal worry was [his brother] Jerome’s lagging advance. He required intelligenceconcerning the Russian forces opposing Jerome as a basis for future orders….While Muratcontinued to edge eastward, repeatedly defeating Barclay’s cavalry, and Jerome finally advanced on5 July, Napoleon had developed his plan. Davout should continue boldly on to Minsk, crowdingBagration southward and thus enabling the French to reach Vitebsk ahead of him….Accordingly, heauthorized Davout to take command of Jerome’s army, ...should the good of the service require it.(Davout was to keep this authority secret; unknown to Davout, Napoleon did not inform Jerome ofit.) VITEBSK BORISOV MINSKOn 12 July, the French main army began concentrating toward Barclay’s south flank, all indicationsbeing that the latter was concentrated at Drissa and would fight there. Davout’s cavalry occupiedBorisov and established contact with Jerome….On 13 July, seeing an opportunity to destroy Bagration before turning north, Davout informedJerome that he was assuming command of the right wing. Incensed, Jerome halted all troopmovements on 14 July, and turned over his command to his chief of staff, Marchand…. CAMPAIGN RUSSIAN Situation 14 July 1812
  31. 31. Napoleon was momentarily stymied, but not for long. If Bagration andBarclay had escaped defeat they could still be destroyed further east,probably at the next river line, that of the Dvina. They were plainly on therun, it was only a matter of catching them up to force a battle. While thearmy waited for its supply trains Davout’s columns remained onBagration’s trail, not an easy task since the wily prince knew the countryvery well and commanded some of the best horseflesh in the world. Afterheading south he cunningly doubled back to the northeast planning to joinBarclay on the Dvina. His maneuver precipitated a serious quarrel betweenDavout and Jérôme, the latter again being negligent, but the damage wasdone. Jérôme in royal pique returned to Westphalia--a furious emperortransferred most of his corps to Marshal Victor’s command. Asprey, p. 254
  32. 32. Davout received Jerome’s resignation on 15 July. Shaken by such flat non-cooperation, he urged Jerome to reconsider…. In reply, Jerome announced his departure for Westphalia…. Too weak to attack Bagration singlehanded, Davout decided to seize Mogilev, thereby barring the shortest route northward to Vitebsk. VITEBSK ORSHA MOGILEVDuring the retreat on Vitebsk, Alexander was persuaded to return to St. Petersburg, thus givingBarclay a relatively free hand. Barclay ordered Bagration to join him at Orsha, claiming (on 21July) that, once his troops were concentrated at Vitebsk, he intended to attack Napoleon. (On 23July, he suggested to Alexander that it would be necessary to withdraw to Smolensk beforeoffering battle.) RUSSIAN CAMPAIGN Situation 24 July 1812
  33. 33. At 0400 29still hesitated to decidedboldly against Barclay, for histo let the army closenot sufficientlyNapoleon July, Napoleon move to “devote seven to eight days own forces were up….” Troopswere to be putand he feared that any regularly; reservewould only startle Barclay into further retreat.concentrated, under shelter and fed premature move rations for twenty days were to be accumulated.All units would submit accurate strength returns….Napoleon had plentiful reasons for this pause. His army, and especially his cavalry was exhausted.Much of his artillery and his ammunition trains were still far to the rear; some of Murat’s cavalry wereout of ammunition. Because of excessive straggling (Ney’s corps was down to 20,700 from 37,800), hewas uncertain as to the number of soldiers still with him. Finally, it seems certain that Napoleon hadcold-bloodedly decided to allow Barclay and Bagration to unite, hoping that they might then risk abattle.Barclay’s uncertainty as to Napoleon’s dispositions was only one of his troubles. His troops, worn outand poorly supplied, were deserting. His own staff intrigued against him as a “German” and “traitor”who had tamely abandoned Russia’s Polish and Lithuanian conquests. Any attempt to retire farther,giving up Smolensk--one of Russia’s earliest and most cherished trophies--plainly would endanger hiscareer.
  34. 34. Meanwhile on 4 August, Bagration had closed up around Smolensk and gone energetically to workundermining Barclay’s authority. Barclay, under pressure from Alexander and his own subordinates,reluctantly decided, on 6 August, to attack Napoleon--of whose actual dispositions he remainedignorant. The combined Russian armies would advance on Rudnya, turn Eugene’s left flank, destroyhis corps, then catch the rest of the French piecemeal as they attempted to aid Eugene. RUDNYA
  35. 35. Meanwhile on 4 August, Bagration had closed up around Smolensk and gone energetically to workundermining Barclay’s authority. Barclay, under pressure from Alexander and his own subordinates,reluctantly decided, on 6 August, to attack Napoleon--of whose actual dispositions he remainedignorant. The combined Russian armies would advance on Rudnya, turn Eugene’s left flank, destroyhis corps, then catch the rest of the French piecemeal as they attempted to aid Eugene.[7-12 August, the Russian attack fizzles out] Davout had established bridgeheads at Orsha, Dubrovnaand Rosasna. Sensing Barclay’s irresolution, Napoleon continued preparations for his ownoffensive…..On 12 August...Napoleon ordered Davout across the Dnieper to Rosasna while Junotmoved on Romanovo. RUDNYA ROSASNA ROMANOVO er er RivShortly after noon on 14 August, Ney and Murat drove the Russians back towards Smolensk. Dniep
  36. 36. At about 1230 Napoleon launched a limited attack against Smolensk, apparently totest Barclay’s determination to defend it. His assault was shrewdly organized, itsmain effort being directed against the south face of the town, out of reach ofBarclay’s artillery on the north bank. Four hours’ hard fighting cleared thesuburbs. Docturov, already mauled, was badly hammered while withdrawing intothe city. Poiniatowski almost carried one of the gates…. The French seem to havemade no real effort to storm the old walls…. When massed French 12-poundersproved unable to breach the walls, Davout used his howitzers to set the buildingsbehind it on fire. Napoleon halted the assault at about 2000 (8 pm).
  37. 37. At about 1230 Napoleon launched a limited attack against Smolensk, apparently totest Barclay’s determination to defend it. His assault was shrewdly organized, itsmain effort being directed against the south face of the town, out of reach ofBarclay’s artillery on the north bank. Four hours’ hard fighting cleared thesuburbs. Docturov, already mauled, was badly hammered while withdrawing intothe city. Poiniatowski almost carried one of the gates…. The French seem to havemade no real effort to storm the old walls…. When massed French 12-poundersproved unable to breach the walls, Davout used his howitzers to set the buildingsbehind it on fire. Napoleon halted the assault at about 2000 (8 pm). At 2300 (11 pm) Barclay ordered Smolensk evacuated. This precipitated another generals’ mutiny, led by Bennigsen and Constantine, who accused him of throwing away a “glorious victory.” Their clamoring merely stiffened Barclay’s spine: Docturov had lost heavily…. French losses around Smolensk were approximately 9,000; Russian losses somewhat higher.
  38. 38. The Emperor by now was fully aware of the enormity of his undertaking.The farther he advanced, the greater it grew. So long as he hadencountered only kings, their defeat had been child’s play. But all the kingswere beaten, and now he had to deal with the people. This was anotherSpain, but a Spain remote, barren, endless that he had found at theopposite end of Europe. He hesitated, uncertain as to how to proceed…. General Count Philippe-Paul de Ségur, Napoleon’s Russian Campaign, p. 43
  39. 39. By 0400 20 August, he had ordered Muratand Davout to resume the pursuit.The French advanced in three columnsThoroughly sensible of his lengthening lineof communication, Napoleon shifted reservesand garrison troops eastward, and orderedVictor to take command of the army’s reararea.At first, the weather was hot and dusty, withwells and streams going dry. Later nightlyrains helped. Astride the main highway, theRussians stripped the countryside as theyretreated, leaving little for the center Frenchcolumn. The two flank columns, thoughslowed by poor roads, usually foundundisturbed villages and sufficient supplies.[In the center column] hunger causedconsiderable straggling, and numbers ofstragglers and foragers were killed by angryserfs and Cossacks.The Russian armies suffered at least as much as the French. Morale dwindled; sickness and desertionincreased….on the 29th Barclay found that he had been superseded by Kutusov. er er Riv Dniep
  40. 40. ! 1757-age 12 he went to the military engineer’s academy. Became fluent in English, French, German, Swedish, Polish and Turkish ! 1762-as a captain, served under Suvorov ! in wars against the Turks he whetted his skill at employing cossacks ! 1773-leading a faltering attack, he received the wound in his temple which cost him his right eye ! 1787-92--again under Suvorov, he served as a Lieutenant- General in the Russo-Turkish War. Thereafter, he held many high civil posts ! 1805-at Austerlitz his advice was ignored by Alexander ! 1806-1812-he commanded the Russian armies in yetMikhail Illarionovich Golenishchev-Kutuzov, another Russo-Turkish war usually shortened to Mikhail Kutuzov 1745 – 1813
  41. 41. Kutusov’s appointment had been forced onAlexander (between whom and Kutusovthere was open dislike) by the frightenedRussian nobility. Sixty-seven years old, toofat to mount a horse, popular with thecommon soldiers, crafty, lazy and greedy,Kutusov was still a realist. He had little hopeof defeating Napoleon, yet he knew that hemust fight to defend Moscow. To get a bettergrip on his command and to postpone theday of battle as long as possible, he risked hispopularity by continuing the retreat….[On 1 September], scenting imminent battle,Napoleon halted two days to rest men and BORODINOhorses, and allow stragglers and detachmentsto close up. On 2 September he called forimmediate and careful musters of men,mounts, ammunition and medicalsupplies--”for my decision will depend uponthem.”The returns showed approximately 128,000men present and 6,000 able to close upwithin five days….At about 1400 (2 pm) on 5September, Murat developed the mainRussian Army, occupying a hastily fortifiedposition around the little town of Borodino.
  42. 42. A major problem for the whole Grande Armée was the disastrousrate of losses among the horses, more from disease, fatigue and --particularly -- bad fodder and care than from enemy action. Pauly, Polish Lancers, p. 38
  43. 43. III. Borodino
  44. 44. III. Borodino
  45. 45. Franz Alekseyevich Roubaud was a Ukrainian painter who created some of the largest and bestknown panoramic paintings.Roubaud was born in 1856 in Odessa and attended an art school there. In 1877 he went to Munich,where he studied at the Munich Academy. He then settled in Saint Petersburg, working in theImperial Academy of Arts and painting huge panoramas of historical battles - ... Siege of Sevastopol(1854) [which we saw in the 19th century Europe class] (unveiled in 1905, damaged during theSiege of Sevastopol (1942), restored in the 1950s), Battle of Borodino (1911, moved to PoklonnayaHill in Moscow in 1962) [which I saw there in 1972] and…. His works were so large that they hadto be exhibited in pavilions specially built for that purpose. In 1913, Roubaud left Russia forMunich, where he died in 1928
  46. 46. Semenovsky village
  47. 47. Battle for Semenovsky ravine
  48. 48. Hand-to-hand fighting
  49. 49. French positions
  50. 50. Westphalian Cuirassiers
  51. 51. Attack of the Saxon Cuirassiers
  52. 52. Cavalry fight on the rye field
  53. 53. Russian cavalry counter-attacks
  54. 54. Russian reserves
  55. 55. Semenovsky village where we beganNow, let’s examine each panel in detail
  56. 56. detail from panel 3
  57. 57. Napoleon
  58. 58. Murat
  59. 59. details
  60. 60. detail from panel 7
  61. 61. details
  62. 62. Napoleon at Borodino Heights, Vasili Vereschagin
  63. 63. Borodino has been magnified---largely through Tolstoy’s fiction---into anapocalyptic struggle. Losses were heavy---between 28,000 and 31,000 French,and more than 45,000 Russians---but actually Wagram was a greater andmore sternly contested battle. Esposito & Elting, opposite MAP 118
  64. 64. French soldiers are not easily deceived; and these wondered why, with somany Russians killed and wounded, there should be only 800 prisoners. Itwas by the number of prisoners that they judged success, since the deadattested to the courage of the defeated, rather than to a victory. If thesurvivors were able to retreat in such good order, proud and undaunted, whatdid the winning of one field matter? In such a vast country, would theRussians ever lack for space on which to fight? de Ségur, p. 83
  65. 65. IV. Moscow
  66. 66. IV. Moscow
  67. 67. Vowing to defend Moscow to the last, Kutusov retreated rapidly toward that city. Leaving Junot onthe [Borodino] battlefield to collect wounded and trophies. Napoleon pursued….On 9 SeptemberMurat rushed Kutusov’s rear guard out of Mozhaisk, forcing it to abandon some 10,000 sick andwounded. On 13 September, Kutusov halted just west of Moscow and called a council of war...heprobably had fewer than 75,000 men. No good defensive position was available….Kutusov finallychose to retire southward. Meanwhile, Count Rostopchin, the violent and erratic governor of Moscow, had driven most ofthat city’s population off…, released all prisoners from the city’s jails, and carried off or crippled allfire-fighting equipment. Murat reached the western gates of Moscow on the 14th, on the heels of the Russian rear guard.
  68. 68. Since both sides were anxious to spare the city, a verbal agreement was reached: the Russians were towithdraw unmolested, leaving Moscow intact to the French….Napoleon was angered when no localauthorities could be found to surrender the city to him…. Fires had been noticed in Moscow during the 14th….
  69. 69. Marshal Duroc was still sorting out imperial headquarters in the luxuriousrooms of the Kremlin when arsonists put match to fuse. The fire began on thenight of 15 September, burned furiously and dangerously for three days andsporadically for another day or two until squelched by rain. Such was itsintensity that imperial headquarters had to be temporarily moved outside thecity proper. In addition to fighting the flames and shooting Rostopchin’sconvicts, the soldiers devoted themselves to an orgy of drunken looting ofwhat they called “the Moscow fair.” The great fire destroyed about three-quarters of the dwellings and shops. “The superbly beautiful city of Moscowno longer exists,” Napoleon informed Czar Alexander two days after the fireswere out. “...Four hundred arsonists were arrested in the act...they have beenshot.” Asprey, pp. 265-266
  70. 70. “This is no time for faintheartedness! Let us swear to bedoubly courageous and persevering!” Alexander’s proclamation to the Russian people September, 1812
  71. 71. ...the Czar…[showed] himself in his speeches as great as the misfortune. “The enemy is in a capital as empty as a tomb, with no way of dominating,even of existing. He entered Russia with three hundred thousand [note howhe halves the number] men of all races, without union, without national orreligious ties. Half his forces have been destroyed by the sword, hunger, anddesertion. In Moscow now there are only ruins. He is in the center of Russia,but not a Russian is at his feet … Meanwhile our forces are increasing anfhemming him in. He is in the heart of a thickly populated country,surrounded by troops that have halted him and are ready to pounce on him.To escape starvation he will soon have to flee through the dense ranks of ourfearless soldiers. Shall we draw back now, when all Europe is following uswith encouraging eyes? Let us now be an example to them, and welcome theHand which has chosen us to be the first nation in the cause of truth andliberty!” He ended with an invocation to the Almighty. de Ségur, pp. 121-122
  72. 72. V. Retreat
  73. 73. V. Retreat
  74. 74. Marshal Ney in the retreat
  75. 75. ...Ney’s method of retreat, the one he had observed since leaving Viazma onthe third of November, that is, for thirty-seven days and nights. Every day at five o’clock [1700] he halted and held the Russians at baywhile his soldiers ate and rested, then set off again at ten [2200]. All nightlong he urged on the horde of laggards by dint of threats, supplications, orblows. At daybreak, about seven o’clock, he halted again, took up a position,and rested under arms and on guard until ten. Then generally the Russianswould come in sight again, and we had to keep up a constant flight [fightingwithdrawal, the hardest military maneuver] until nightfall, gaining as muchground as possible in a backward direction. At first this was in pursuance ofdefinite marching orders, but later according to circumstances. The rearguard had been progressively reduced from two thousand men to onethousand, then to five hundred, and finally to sixty! de Ségur, pp. 288-289
  76. 76. Napoleon’s step son Eugene Beauharnais gave Kutusov a bloodynose at Maloyaroslavets on 23-24 October.
  77. 77. At Maloyaroslavets, there was soul-searching in both headquarters.Kutusov, with...little confidence in his new troops after their defeatby Eugene, retired two miles, uncovering a side road leadingthrough unforaged country to Medyn. Napoleon, with the mainRussian army holding an almost impregnable position across hisroad to Kaluga, spent the day in indecision. MEDYN KALUGA The French retreated at a crawl. Napoleon would abandon nothing, insisting on picking up the wounded at the Mozhaisk and Borodino hospitals, and every available gun and wagon. Thus overloaded, his exhausted teams gave out, littering the road with derelict vehicles. Davout, commanding the rear guard, was swamped by thousands of stragglers and lagging artillery and wagons from the main body.
  78. 78. “…. But most horrible was the field of Borodino, where we saw the fortythousand men who had perished there, yet lying unburied.” Marbot too remarked on the field of Borodino “covered with the debris ofhelmets, swords, wheels, weapons, scraps of uniforms and thirty thousandcorpses half eaten by wolves. The troops and the Emperor passed by rapidly,casting a sorrowful glance at this immense tomb.” Napoleon and the Guard reached Viasma only at the end of October.Although the army was now strung out for about 50 miles and was frequentlyunder attack by guerrillas, Cossacks and regular army units, Napoleon did notseem to be upset although he continued to worry about the safe evacuation ofthe wounded. Asprey, p. 272
  79. 79. “…. But most horrible was the field of Borodino, where we saw the fortythousand men who had perished there, yet lying unburied.” Marbot too remarked on the field of Borodino “covered with the debris ofhelmets, swords, wheels, weapons, scraps of uniforms and thirty thousandcorpses half eaten by wolves. The troops and the Emperor passed by rapidly,casting a sorrowful glance at this immense tomb.” Napoleon and the Guard reached Viasma only at the end of October.Although the army was now strung out for about 50 miles and was frequentlyunder attack by guerrillas, Cossacks and regular army units, Napoleon did notseem to be upset although he continued to worry about the safe evacuation ofthe wounded. Asprey, p. 272
  80. 80. Only a few days later [4 Nov] the favorable weather turned to a storm thatcovered the troops with snow and the roads with ice. [Heavy snow made itimpossible to graze the starving horses.] The cavalry, unshod for winterexcept for [the] Guard, was helpless. Fallen horses littered the roads, the poorcreatures still in their death throes being butchered for food. Abandoned guncarriages, caissons, wagons and elegant carriages holding incredibly valuabletreasures littered the primitive roads, the troops quickly stripped them of theirplunder only to abandon it in turn. Asprey, pp. 273, 265
  81. 81. Only a few days later [4 Nov] the favorable weather turned to a storm thatcovered the troops with snow and the roads with ice. [Heavy snow made itimpossible to graze the starving horses.] The cavalry, unshod for winterexcept for [the] Guard, was helpless. Fallen horses littered the roads, the poorcreatures still in their death throes being butchered for food. Abandoned guncarriages, caissons, wagons and elegant carriages holding incredibly valuabletreasures littered the primitive roads, the troops quickly stripped them of theirplunder only to abandon it in turn. Great numbers of soldiers could be seen wandering over the countryside, either alone or in small groups. These were not cowardly deserters: cold and starvation had detached them from their columns… Now they met only armed civilians or Cossacks who fell upon them with ferocious laughter, wounded them, stripped them of everything they had and left them to perish naked in the snow. These guerrillas...kept abreast of the army on both sides of the road, under cover of the trees. They threw back on the deadly highway the soldiers whom they did not finish off with their spears and axes. Count Philippe Paul de Segur Asprey, pp. 273, 265
  82. 82. “Understand that the foundation of an army is the belly. It is necessary to procurenourishment for the soldier wherever you assemble him and wherever you wish to lead him.This is the primary duty of a general.” --FREDERICK THE GREAT
  83. 83. As a soldier, Napoleon had touched his lowest ebb. Traveling near the headof the army, in the middle of his Guard, he at times seemed to haveabdicated his command. He warned neither Victor, Macdonald,Schwarzenberg nor Maret of his plight, and made no effort to coordinatetheir operations. (It was 7 November when he finally advised Victor thatthe main army was exhausted and its situation was critical.) And, byisolating himself from his army, he completely neglected its still-deepresources of morale and devotion. --Esposito & Elting
  84. 84. Napoleon reached Smolensk on 9 November, and found bad news...orderedthe Guard issued 15 days rations and the other units 6. The Smolenskadministrative staff fumbled the situation, either demanding formalrequisitions or panicking. Stragglers began looting, other troops joinedthem, and many supplies were wasted. Instead of leaving Smolensk with his 50,000 effective troops well closedup, Napoleon proceeded as if the Russians did not exist. --Esposito & Elting SMOLENSK ORSHA *
  85. 85. An immensity of woe stretched out before us. We were going to marchforty days more [from Smolensk] under the weight of this iron yoke! Someof the men, already overburdened with their present miseries, werecompletely overwhelmed by the dreaded prospect. Others … no longercounting on anyone but themselves...resolved to live at all costs. From that time on, the strong plundered the weak, stealing from theirdying companions...their food, their clothing, or the gold with which theyhad filled their knapsacks instead of provisions. Then these miserablewretches whom despair had driven to banditry, threw away their ownweapons in order to save this infamous loot, taking advantage of...thecomplete anonymity, the unrecognizable state of their uniforms, thedarkness of night, and anything that might encourage cowardice and crime.I should not have mentioned these obnoxious details if reportsexaggerating their horror had not already been published: for suchatrocities were rare, and the guiltiest were executed. de Ségur, pp. 191-192
  86. 86. VI. Crossing the Berezina
  87. 87. VI. Crossing the Berezina
  88. 88. from50,000 to28,000
  89. 89. Orsha had been the salvation of the French army. Its commanding officer and administrativestaff were capable and determined, and had taken all possible measures to receive and resupplythe troops from their well-stocked magazines. Insofar as possible, stragglers had been sent backto their units and rearmed. In a belated effort to lighten his army, Napoleon ordered all surplusvehicles burned, and their horses transferred to the artillery. He himself set the example,destroying most of his papers and personal baggage. Counting...on being able to use the Borisovbridge [over the Berezina] he even burned his ponton bridge train, over the objections of itscommander General Eblé. (However Eblé managed to retain two field forges and eight wagonsloaded with coal and tools. Each of his pontoniers carried a tool, spikes, and clamps.) Jean-Baptiste Eblé
  90. 90. Oudinot meanwhile had marched on Borisov with the II Corps and part ofDombrowski’s division….The Russians just managed to burn the bridge beforeOudinot could rush it, but left him some 350 wagons loaded with supplies andmore than 1,000 prisoners. Oudinot had learned of two other fords: one at Studenka (from Corbineau,who had joined him after crossing there during the night of 21-22 November),and one nearer Borisov, used by a Polish regiment that had been cut off on the21st….Oudinot quickly decided to use the Studenka ford.
  91. 91. Before dawn on 26 November, Napoleon massed Oudinot’s guns on the low ridge behindStudenka. At 0800 Polish lancers rode into the stream, each carrying a voltigeur behind him.After them three small rafts shuttled 300 infantrymen across. These troops, efficiently covered byOudinot’s guns, quickly cleared the opposite bank. Simultaneously Eblé began construction oftwo 105-yard long bridges, one for infantry and cavalry, one for vehicles. Working shoulder deepin freezing water, buffeted by floating ice, engineers and sailors finished the infantry-cavalrybridge by 1300. Eblé, austere and deeply revered, set the example.
  92. 92. The vehicular bridge was finished at 1600; all available artillery was pushed acrossas fast as it came up. At 2000 (8 pm) the collapse of three trestles halted thismovement. Eblé roused half of his exhausted men from their fires, and led theminto the river. After a three-hour struggle in the freezing darkness, the artillerybridge was again serviceable.
  93. 93. At 0200 27 November, the vehicular bridge broke again; Eblé took the other half of hismen into the wreckage, got traffic moving again by 0600. It broke again at 1600 (4pm) but was repaired in two hours…. Napoleon sent the Guard across the river, Junotfollowed, then Eugene, finally Davout. Those stragglers who reached the bridges werecleared through between the formed units. Napoleon was extremely active,reconnoitering Oudinot’s position and checking each unit that crossed.
  94. 94. 28 November
  95. 95. Victor had skillfully organized the Studenka ridge, his weak south flank beingsupported by guns massed on the west bank. Wittgenstein attacked repeatedly,attempting to break in between Victor and the bridges. Several times hemanaged to place artillery fire on them; each time, Victor knocked him sprawlingback. 28 November
  96. 96. Alarmed by this firing, the stragglers rushed the bridges, blocking themrepeatedly, but at dusk those who had not crossed camped on the east bank, deafto all warnings. Eblé cleared the bridges, and Victor withdrew between 2100 and0630 in perfect order. The sight of his rear guard finally aroused the stragglers;though ordered to burn the bridges at 0700, Eblé gave them until 0830. Possibly10,000 of them did not escape. It was 0900 before Wittgenstein’s Cossacksventured forward to rob those unfortunates. 28 November
  97. 97. In more senses than one, Napoleon had snatched an outstanding victory out of his worst defeat. TheGrande Armée might be dying on its feet, but neither winter, hunger, rivers, nor overwhelming oddsin men and guns could halt it. It trampled them underfoot and went on. And with it, borne abovedisaster, marched Napoleon’s prestige and the traditions of the French Revolution. “You should neverdespair while brave men remain with the colors.” --Esposito & Elting 28 November
  98. 98. His army too weak for another battle, Napoleon orderedVilna prepared to resupply it.Winter was the deadly enemy. The temperature plummetedbelow zero; storms scourged the shambling columns. Fewmen could do more than keep alive. Both armies graduallydisintegrated from hunger, exhaustion, cold, and typhus. VILNA The Berezina Crossing
  99. 99. Now the irregulars and Cossacks came into their own: hardyfrontiersmen, they endured where Russian regulars perished.Highly disinterested in hard fighting, but hunting constantlyfor easy loot, they slowly demoralized the exhausted French. VILNA The Berezina Crossing Napoleon had decided to leave his army, a course he had refused to consider east of the Berezina. Now there was little more he could do; his continued presence with the army exposed him to unnecessary risks. Only from Paris could he rebuild his army for the 1813 campaign; only from Paris would he be able to control his empire, once the full outcome of the Russian campaign became known. (As early as 24 October, the half-insane General Malet had almost seized through a fantastic plot; others might be expected.)….E & E
  100. 100. Bad News from France, paintingdepicting Napoleon encamped in aRussian Orthodox church (VasilyVereshchagin, part of his series,"Napoleon, 1812", 1887–95)
  101. 101. Smorgony
  102. 102. [At Smorgony the Emperor had told his assembled marshals]”I no longer feelstrong enough to leave all Prussia between myself and France. And whyshould I remain at the head of a retreat? Murat and Eugène are well able tolead it, and Ney to protect it. It is absolutely necessary that I return to France,to reassure and arm the people, and to assure the allegiance of all theGermans. Then I shall come back with fresh adequate troops to save what isleft of the Grand Army….But to reach Paris I shall have to cross a thousandmiles of allied territory alone. In order that this may be accomplished withoutdanger, my intention must be kept secret: no one must know the road I am totake, and the disastrous news of our retreat must not be made public. I mustride ahead of that news, because of the effect it would have and the generaldefection which would result, were it known. de Ségur, pp. 266
  103. 103. Traveling in his usual whirlwind fashion, Napoleon reentered Paris on 18December--E & E By the time he reached Rovnopol, two-thirds of his 78-man Polish lancer escort had died from cold, hunger and exhaustion
  104. 104. Napoleon had attempted a campaign beyond his means. The forces involvedwere too great, the spaces across which they operated too vast for the existingmethods of communication and supply. Napoleon’s abilities as a general and aruler, outstanding as they proved, could not compensate for the impossibledemands imposed by time and space. A sense of impending failure seems tohave seized him early, frequently muffling his clear mind and power ofdecision. Esposito & Elting, opposite MAP 126
  105. 105. Time was to show that the decision to invade Russia constituted theirrevocable step which effectively compromised any remaining chance ofsurvival for Napoleon and his Empire. From the moment the first troopscrossed the Niemen, the Emperor was committed to the path leadinginexorably to St. Helena, and although the next few years would hold severaltransient military successes for his arms, there could be no retracing his steps.The die was cast from 22 June 1812, though few men guessed it at the time. Chandler, p. 739
  106. 106. In the last analysis, Napoleon’s defeat can be explained in terms of twocircumstances. First a general decline in the quality of his generalship, shownfirst of all in a lack of energy which led to poor supervision of subordinatesand repeated failure to intervene personally at the decisive point (as had everbeen his practice in the years of his prime); this is also reflected in growingindulgence in wishful thinking concerning the military capabilities of histroops (which he persistently overestimated) and the character of the Tsar(whom he consistently underestimated). The second circumstance was thesheer size of the enterprise he attempted to undertake; it is doubtful whetherany other soldier in history would have achieved a larger measure of success,both in the preparatory and the executive phases under the military conditionsof 1812…but “Great and distant enterprises perish from the very magnitudeof the preparations made to ensure their success.” The problems of space, timeand distance proved too great for even one of the greatest military minds thathas ever existed, but it was the failure of a giant surrounded by pygmies. Chandler, p. 861
  107. 107. Alameda, Spain, 29th December 1812,...The successes of the Russians are great and glorious, and will be a means ofrousing the Continental Powers from their lethargic state. It will show theworld that a true spirit of patriotism will always overpower tyranny andoppression. Bravo, Russians! they are worthy of the country they inhabit, andtheir labors will be crowned with success. The man that would not be profuseof his life in defence of the place that gave him birth, deserves not the name... in a letter to his father, G. Simmons, Lt., 1st Batt., 95th Regt. George Simmons, A British Rifle Man, 1899, p. 270
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