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Thread: Read this and cry for Nopoleon's retreat from Moscow.

  1. #1

    Default Read this and cry for Nopoleon's retreat from Moscow.

    Excerpt... (Full link below...this is very interesting and will reveal much of what many forget about as they watch their gleaming armies en video) Read this physicians report on the link below and if you are not deeply moved you are not human..... The war was suffering and sufering was the war.

    "Arrived in Russia the French were soon disappointed; gloomy forests and
    sterile soil met the eye, all was sad and silent. After the army had passed
    the Niemen and entered into Poland the misery, instead of diminishing,
    increased, the hour had struck for these unfortunates. The enemy destroyed
    everything on retreating, the cattle were taken to distant provinces; the
    French saw the destruction of the fields, the villages were deserted, the
    peasants fled upon the appearance of the French army, all inhabitants had
    left except the Jews. When the army came to Lithuania everything seemed to
    be in league against the French. It was a rainy season, the soldiers
    marched through vast and gloomy forests, and all was melancholy. One could
    have imagined himself to be in a desert if it had not been for the
    vehicles, the cursing of the drivers, discontented on account of hunger and
    fatigue, the imprecations of the soldiers on every occasion; bad humor, due
    to privations, prevailed everywhere. It would seem as if the furies of hell
    were marching at the heels of the army. The roads were in a terrible
    condition, almost unpassable on account of the rain which had been
    continuous since the crossing of the Niemen; the artillery wagons
    especially gave great trouble in passing marshes, and, on account of the
    extreme exhaustion of the horses, a great many of these vehicles had to be
    abandoned. The horses receiving no nourishment but green herbs could resist
    even less than the men and they fell by the hundred.

    The improper feeding of the animals caused gastric disturbances,
    alternately diarrhoea and constipation, enormous tympanitis, peritonitis.
    It is touching to read of the devotion of German cavalrymen to their poor
    horses. They would introduce the whole arm into the bowel to relieve the
    suffering creatures of the accumulated fecal masses.

    As the army advanced over these roads the extreme want of provisions was
    bitterly felt. The warriors already reduced to such an excess of misery
    were exposed to rain without being able to dry themselves; to nourish
    themselves they were forced to resort to the most horrible marauding, and
    sometimes they had nothing to eat for twenty-four hours or even longer.
    They ran through the land in all directions, disregarding all dangers,
    sometimes many miles away from the route, to find provisions. Wherever they
    came they went through the houses from the foundation to the roof, and when
    they found animals they took them away; no attention was paid to the
    feeling of the poor peasants and nothing was considered as being too harsh
    for them; in most instances the latter had run away for fear of
    maltreatment. Nothing is so afflicting as to see the rapacity of pillaging
    soldiers, stealing and destroying everything coming under their hands. They
    took to excess vodka found in the magazines which the enemy had not
    destroyed, or in the castles off the main route. In consequence of this
    abuse of alcohol while in their feeble condition many perished. The enemy
    retreated behind the Dwina and fortified himself in camp. It was thought
    that he would give battle, and all enjoyed this prospect.

    On July 20, at a time when the conditions of the army were already
    terrible, the heat became excessive. The rains ceased; there were no rainy
    days, except an occasional storm, until September 17. The poor infantrymen
    were to be pitied; they had to carry their arms, their effects, their
    cartridges, harassed by continuous fatigue, overpowered by hunger and a
    thousand sorrows, and were obliged to march 10, 12, 15, and sometimes even
    16 and 17 miles a day over dusty roads under a burning sun, all the time
    tormented by a cruel thirst. But all this has been fully described in an
    earlier chapter.

    On July 23 the Prince of Eckmuehl (Davout) had a very hot engagement with
    the Russian army corps under Prince _Bagratian_ before Mohilew; on
    July 25, a bloody battle was fought near Ostrowno. The houses and other
    buildings of Ostrowno were filled with wounded, the battlefield covered
    with corpses of men and horses, and the hot weather caused quick
    putrefaction. Kerckhove visited the battlefield on June 28 and says: "I
    have no words to describe the horror of seeing the unburied cadavers,
    infesting the air, and among the dead many helpless wounded without a
    drop of water, exposed to the hot sun, crying in rage and despair.""

    http://www.gutenberg.org/dirs/etext05/7napr10.txt

    Enjoy!

    Also here's a link to the map ...just look at the loss of life during this campaign!


    http://www.csse.monash.edu.au/~cema/courses/CSE3325/images/lect6/napoleonArmy.gif

  2. #2

    Default Re: Read this and cry for Nopoleon's retreat from Moscow.

    Now what exactly is this an excerpt from?

  3. #3

    Default Re: Read this and cry for Nopoleon's retreat from Moscow.

    Quote Originally Posted by BigG View Post
    Now what exactly is this an excerpt from?
    Click the link provided: it's a famous physician the details at the link.

  4. #4
    Jom's Avatar A Place of Greater Safety
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    Default Re: Read this and cry for Nopoleon's retreat from Moscow.

    If you want to read about the campaign in full then I can highly recommend the book "1812: Napoleon's Fatal March on Moscow" by Adam Zamoyski. More details here. It's extremely well-written semi-narrative history which draws on a great wealth of first-hand accounts of the misery endured by soldiers on both sides.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Read this and cry for Nopoleon's retreat from Moscow.

    When people think of Napoleon's invasion of Russia, they usually think of his army being yet another victim of General Winter. However, long before he came around (remember, Napoleon invaded in June), Generals Hunger and Disease already worked to ensure that the French army that reached Moscow was only a fraction of that which crossed the Niemen. Russian scorched earth tactics were particularly deadly on an army like Napoleon's which was used to foraging for supplies. Grand Armee soldiers marched hundreds and hundreds of miles without seeing any supplies at all.

    Guys like Napoleon and Hitler, they weren't stupid. 'Didn't they know it was cold during the winter?' Of course they did. The problem was, Russia was a monster to invade during the spring and fall as well. Long periods of rain in the fall turned the country into mud, crippling transport and logistics. The rain and mud was broken up by ol' General Winter. When winter went and all that snow thawed? Yes the country turns back into mud during the spring. All that left precious little viable time to pull off the invasion. Napoleon and Hitler both invaded during the summer (almost exactly the same time in fact, the former June 24, the latter June 22) but as we saw, it wasn't enough.

  6. #6
    Jom's Avatar A Place of Greater Safety
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    Default Re: Read this and cry for Nopoleon's retreat from Moscow.

    Quote Originally Posted by Stellerex View Post
    However, long before he came around (remember, Napoleon invaded in June), Generals Hunger and Disease already worked to ensure that the French army that reached Moscow was only a fraction of that which crossed the Niemen.
    Borodino, the bloodiest battle to have been fought during the 19th century, didn't help much, either.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Read this and cry for Nopoleon's retreat from Moscow.

    The Russians used a modified Fabian strategy against Napoleon. They were fully aware that it was next to impossible to defeat Napoleon in a pitched battle, so they delayed and denied battle, while cleaning out the countryside, denying the French the ability to forage. By the time the French army was near Moscow, it was already exhausted.

    Borodino is only about a hundred miles outside of Moscow. The battle took place on September 7th, so Napoleon's army had already spent 2 and a half months marching over scorched earth. And even then, the battle resulted in a close Russian defeat. The French suffered around 30k casualties, depending on the source. And after that, they marched into a looted Moscow, which promptly caught fire.

    So now, they are in Russian Autumn, in a burned and looted city, with no way to move out. Rasputitza (the mud season where nothing moves) starts in mid October, which is when Napoleon decided to get out of dodge, so to speak. Kutuzov was there, with a well fed and supplied army (well, as good as can be expected for Russia), to make sure that Napoleon had to retreat back along the same exact route that was barren of any food or resources.

    It took another TWO MONTHS for what was left of the Army to leave Russian territory, while being harassed the entire way.

    Here's an absolutely fantastic graph of the strength of Napoleon's army in Russia from invasion to retreat from Wiki:
    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/29/Minard.png

    Prince Alexander Nevsky famously said about the Teutonic Knights that invaded Russia in the 1200s, "He, who comes to us with a sword, shall perish by the sword. On this Russia stood and will stand."

  8. #8

    Default Re: Read this and cry for Nopoleon's retreat from Moscow.

    I just noticed the link that I posted, is exactly the same as the one that Torn Sage did. It's great. Really puts the whole thing in perspective.

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