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Subject: 1812
Okoshka    4/22/2004 1:16:24 AM
They told us in the school the French Army left Russia because of the Russian Winter. As I remember the teachers didn't value the Russian military actions greatly. I suppose they didn't realy liked the Russians. I understand mostly (I think) why was left Moskva to the enemy. But why did left the French it ? Both without fights. And I know very few about the later Russian actions. (In Poland, in the German states)
 
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roadcop    RE:1812   4/22/2004 1:49:36 AM
French left Moscow because of lack of supply and troop morale loss. After they left, it was one major battle under Maloyaroslavetz. After loosing that engagement French army have retreated to Russian borded. During retreat French marched through territories previously sacked and pillaged. So, their losses have increased greatly. Russian Army pursued them with constant light cavalry attacks and partisan raids. There was no need in major battle. French army have been slowly dying from attrition, hunger and illness.
 
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Okoshka    RE:1812   4/22/2004 8:56:32 AM
French won at Borodino. How expensive was this victory for them?And for the Russians? What think about the Napoleonic war the common Russian. I mean how great part of the victory they suppose was their? British think they destroyed Napoleon at Waterloo. But maybe after the Russian expedition the Grand Armee never was the same again.
 
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roadcop    RE:1812   4/22/2004 10:57:27 PM
French had a field after Borodino. But the initiative remained with Russian Army. Even Borodino had place only after Emperor Alexander ordered Kutuzov to stop French advance. Kutuzov didnt want any unnecessary losses, he saw that French couldnt wan this war at all. Kutuzov himself had enough forces to oppose Napoleon, but we also had two large armies in Ukraine and near Saint-Petersburg. So, Borodino battle bloodied French Army (there was no possibility to reinforce it). Russian armies were steadily growing in strength. After Maloyaroslavetz French were demoralized. Constant raids, lack of supply, winter cold and illness greatly reduced French combat abilities. And only slow advance of Adm.Chichagov Ukrainian Army saved French troops from full elimination (and Napoleon from potential capture). Chichagov was too late to stop French from crossing Berezina river. But many French troops were killed or drowned there. Okay, common Russian thinks that victory over Napoleon is mainly ours.
 
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roadcop    RE:1812   4/22/2004 10:59:20 PM
Borodino losses... Numbers differ, but I think that about 140,000 Russians were killed, and 125,000 French. I'll check it again.
 
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sentinel28a    RE:1812   4/23/2004 3:31:40 AM
That sounds about right. It's conventional wisdom to think of the Tsarist Army in the Napoleonic period as being idiot conscripts backed by poor officers with a handful of elite Cossacks. That's actually pretty far from the truth--Russia had an exceptional army with generally good leaders. They were the first nation I know of to fight the Grande Armee *under Napoleon's command* to a draw, at Eylau. Of course, they lost spectacularly at Friedland later on, but Eylau was really the first nail in Napoleon's coffin. I don't think Russia was solely responsible for Napoleon's downfall, but it certainly contributed to it. It was a team effort, just like World War II...and like WWII, Russia has nothing to be ashamed of in either performance. Question for the Russian posters: is the field at Borodino preserved, like Waterloo?
 
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roadcop    RE:1812   4/23/2004 4:36:43 AM
Yes, the field at Borodino is preserved. There is a museum and memorial complex there. Also, in 1941 there were heavy fightings with Germans. So, there are some monuments to Red Army soldier, too. Every year members of military history clubs take part in large historical shows there presenting scenes of 1812.
 
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Okoshka    RE:1812   4/23/2004 7:46:10 AM
140.000 is a huge number.(In 1848 185.000 Russian came to Hungary to help the Austrians to stop the Revolution. It was told to be about the two third of the whole army at that time.) Just imagine! 260.000 men were killed on one day! Not with machineguns, bombs, but mostly with "knifes"! I ask these questions because not long ago I read about Suvorov in the first Napoleonic war.As he won against the French in Northern Italy and as he saved his men in Switzerland. After this book I started thinking about the Russians role in the fights against N. I saw a film about Wellington's operations in Spain. He wasn't really able to do more than slightly slow the French advance. It seems to me western(even Hungarian) historians undervalue the importance of the Russians role in the Napoleonic wars. (And in ww2 too) As you (Roadcop) say it can be similar to you as the ww1 to the French.
 
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roadcop    RE:1812   4/26/2004 1:17:23 AM
I think most losses were inflicted by artillery fire. Also, small firearms fire was somehow effective, too. Remember The Patriot movie with M.Gibson.
 
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Okoshka    RE:1812   4/28/2004 4:50:25 AM
Sure! You are right about the artillery. (But a few years before Suvorov told something like: The bullet is a fool, the bayonet is a good friend!) If you compare the losses of the participants with th losses of the US in the blodiest ww2 battles of their there is a huge difference! And 130 years! Far smaller firepower. As I see the western historians tend to undervalue the Russian part in the victory over Napoleon. It's quite similar to the ww2. As you watch the western movies about ww2 you may think the German military was destroyed by the British-American army. Maybe I'm wrong but to me it seems the US won against the Germans mostly in the field of the industry. Their help (military equipment, technologies,etc)to the SU. was enormous and vital. Surely the bombings against the German "Hintergrund" was important. But the "dirty work" was made by the SU. And they don't seem to know about it! As I read about it Suvorov improved a lot on Russian mil. training. Wanted proper equipments to his men, required proper leading from the officers. Many times punished the negligant officers. They say his training principles were basics for long time in the Russian army. But in ww1 the good training and good leadership wasn't the strong point of the Russians. What happened? It wasn't simple technological and/or financial difference between Russia and the enemy
 
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ilpars    RE:1812   4/28/2004 6:06:31 AM
In Napoleonic times, few soldiers died from Bayonet. The reason is proper attack formation for a bayonet charge is attack column. Proper formation for firepower is line. If an enemy unit makes a bayonet charge, best defense is form a line, fire enemy as fast as you can and break his charge. But if the enemy did not break, you have to retreat. Attack column is much better for close combat as line formation lacks the depth (2 or 3 rank deep). So very few bayonet charges resulted in close combat. In Napoleonic times bayonet charge was only popular at French and Russian armies. The other nations preferred the firepower of line formation. Many western historians underestimate the military talents of Kutusov. Kutusov was highly favored by Suvarov. And Kutusov was very successful at Ottoman front where Bagration and other famous generals were not. Probably the reason of Kutusov is underestimated is; he favored defensive grand tactics in the age when Napoleon made offensive grand tactics more popular. Napoleonic Russian soldiers are known lack of iniative but very stubborn. Can face the hardships of war better than others. In 1812 Russian soldiers also lost many soldiers to cold and atrition. When Napoleon exited Russia he had only 50000 soldiers of his 500000 but Russian army had only 70000 left out of their 400000 total. No other campaign in history that I know resulted in that many casualties. Russian army was also very active in the 1813 campaign. Initially more than 2/3 of Allied armies at Germany were Russians. When Prussians called their Landwehr and Austrians joined to allies these percentages changed.
 
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