Originally Posted by Prince of Essling”
This remark mentioned in another thread little bit inspired me to ask the question why Napoleon lost Russia campaign in 1812.
Napoleon lost his catastrophic Russia campaign without a doubt. He had the biggest multinational Grande Armee, used many supporting contingents and heavily outnumbered Russians in the beginning, but he lost this disastrous campaign. It could be interesting to discus why Napoleon lost this campaign.
His long distant march to Moscow turned into catastrophic winter retreat, but Russian harsh winter was only the last nail to French coffin. Strategically they lost this campaign mainly by their own mistakes made long before Russian winter season.
There were many reasons why French and their allies were defeated. Disease, dysentery, influenza, starvation, harsh weather, distant depots, long communication and supply lines, poor living condition, poor motivation, great scale desertion, masses marauders, robberies, drop off morale and discipline. All these things get many problems and inflicted many, many casualties, but it can not entirely explain why they were defeated.
Russian also suffered that kind of casualties. They were more hunger-proof and cold-proof and more resistant than West and South European people, but many Russians also were ill, many frozen, many died with exhaustion on the roads, many was tired or went on last legs, many were prostrated or lost their minds. It was crazy, deadly race which not many can survived. In these hard conditions Russians can outlived many French, Germans, Polish, Italians, Dutch, Austrians, Czechs, Hungarians, Prussians, Swiss, Belgians, Croats, Spaniards and Portuguese. Russian also were better motivated because they defended their homeland. They fought hard, retreated and used scorched earth strategy.
Both sides suffered horrendous casualties, but Napoleon and his Marshals were defeated, because many years before and during that campaign French made too many small and many big mistakes. They spoiled that campaign from the start mainly by themselves.