Section III expedition to Russia

in order to further consolidate the hegemonic position of the French First Empire in Europe, Napoleon launched a long-distance expedition to Russia, trying to take the lead in destroying czar Russia, an important force in the anti French Alliance. As the fifth anti French Alliance war, Napoleon suffered a disastrous defeat in the expedition to Russia, which also became an important turning point from strength to decline of the first empire of France.


Napoleon was defeated by Russia in 1812.

Napoleon won an unprecedented military victory in the European continent in 1812. France occupied almost all Italy and Germany (established the Rhine Federation controlled by France), defeated the European power Austria and defeated Prussia, Controlled Spain, the Netherlands and other places. His goal was to gain the hegemony of the whole Europe and make France’s sworn enemy and maritime empire Britain surrender at that time, but Russia became the backbone of the European continent to prevent Napoleon from realizing the plan to compete for world hegemony. Napoleon had the idea of forcing Russia to surrender through war. Since 1811, in order to prepare for the invasion of Russia, Napoleon’s military and foreign policy began to be more and more targeted. In 1812, Napoleon prepared an unprecedentedly powerful army. The total number of troops composed of European nationalities under his control reached about 1.2 million, half of which were used to attack Russia. After learning that France was about to invade, Russia also took corresponding measures to prepare for war, including strengthening the army and preventing isolation in wartime. In terms of diplomacy, Russia also made achievements. In April 1812, Russia signed an alliance with Sweden, stipulating that both sides should act together against France. After the war broke out, Russia and Britain Concluded a peace treaty and ended the war with Turkey. For Russia, alliance with Britain, a maritime empire, was a great political victory.


(1) Poland assembled

in the summer of 1812, Napoleon assembled 610000 troops, divided into three routes, of which the middle route was under his personal leadership and command. This huge army was called “Grande arm é e” by Napoleon. The army was assembled in Warsaw principality controlled by France. On June 24, Cross the Neyman River and fight undeclared against Russia.

(2) enter Moscow

on June 24, 1812, the French army entered Russia, and the first group of nearly 450000 people soon penetrated into the Russian mainland. At this time, about 240000 Russian troops were forced to retreat in the face of the aggressive offensive of the French army. They were fortified and cleared along the way to block the progress of the French army. From August 16 to 18, the Russian and French troops fought in Smolensk. The Russian army will not retreat to Moscow. The Slovak Army will not resist the attack. On September 7, the Russian army retreated to the outskirts of Moscow and fought a decisive battle with Napoleon I’s army near Borodino village. In the battle of Borodino, the Russian army wiped out nearly half of the enemy, Napoleon’s military advantage was greatly weakened, and the initiative of the war turned to the Russian army. In the absence of reserve forces, Kutuzov ordered the Russian army to withdraw from the capital Moscow on September 13 in order to preserve the effective strength of the army, and almost all Moscow residents also withdrew with him. The next day, the French army entered Moscow, and the fire burned all over the city that night.

(3) retreat to the southwest

Kutuzov led his army to withdraw from Moscow and came to Kaluga City 160 kilometers southwest of Moscow. Soon, all the Russian troops came together, and his troops expanded to more than 100000. Kutuzov immediately adjusted his deployment and made an appointment with the Russian generals to attack the French army on all sides. Russia will lead Wittgenstein to lead 50000 Russian troops to threaten the left wing of the French army. Chichagov will lead 70000 troops to attack the right wing of the French army. The forward has arrived near the French supply base Minsk. The Russian people also opposed Napoleon. They not only hid all the food, but also formed many guerrillas to attack small groups of French troops and baggage everywhere, making the French rear uneasy everywhere. At this time, the rear was unstable, the royalists in France were ready to move, the supply line was in danger of being cut off at any time, and the Russian emperor said he would never make peace. Seeing that winter was coming, Napoleon decided to withdraw his troops.

(4) the destruction of the Quartermaster system and the withdrawal of the French army

soon after winter, Russia began to snow and the temperature dropped rapidly. When the French army withdrew from Moscow, it did not expect to march in the ice and snow. It did not bring enough cold proof and thermal insulation supplies. In addition, the food and grass were exhausted, hungry and cold, and the order began to be chaotic. The French army looted everywhere in groups to find food and fuel. As long as a horse fell, everyone rushed up frantically to grab food. Many people often killed each other for a piece of bread and a potato. The Russian cavalry rushed in from time to time, chopped and killed, and then disappeared quickly. The French army abandoned countless corpses all the way, a large number of people deserted, many wounded and sick were left behind, and even the cart full of looting materials was left on the roadside. On November 9, Napoleon finally retreated to Smolensk, with less than 60000 troops left. Because the horses of the French army did not install anti-skid nails on their hooves, they were very easy to break their legs in the snow. In addition, they froze to death in the severe cold. So far, there was little left, and many artillery and ammunition vehicles had to be discarded. Napoleon fled back to Paris at the end of December 1812. Napoleon lost more than 570000 people in Russia and lost all cavalry and almost all artillery.

the ending

Napoleon lost more than 500000 elite troops, 500 guns and more than 200000 muskets in this battle. Since then, French industry has also begun to catch up with the need to replenish military supplies. The excellent situation of France’s hegemony over Europe turned sharply downward. The failure of the expedition became the beginning of Napoleon’s downhill road and the beginning of European military revival. Countries began to come out of Napoleon’s strong military shadow, and the balance of victory tilted again to the European conservative forces against France.

influence ` evaluation of

the Russian people won the patriotic war in 1812, which not only saved their country from slavery, but also safeguarded his dignity and independence. RussiaIn the struggle against the invaders, the army showed high fighting quality and carried forward the spirit of bravery, tenacity and self sacrifice. This war is also of great international significance. The victory of the Russian people dealt a devastating blow to the military defeat of France under Napoleon and the political system dominated by the French Empire established by France in Europe.

Napoleon’s failure to invade Russia also left a far-reaching impact on the history of the Russian nation and the social life of the Russian people. Under the influence of the Russian people’s victory in the war, the ideological system of the noble revolutionaries – the December party began to take shape. The patriotism of the Russian army and people inspired many Russian writers, artists and composers to create. Nationalism once prevailed in this northern country, and the combat experience of the Russian army also provided a lot of data for military experts and historians at home and abroad in the process of theoretical summary. Napoleon’s expedition to Russia in 1812 has been recorded in many documents and works of art, among which the most famous are the pineapple Gino battlefield monument, the monument of jaroslavi C í and Tarutino, the Arc de Triomphe in Moscow and grad, the winter palace military Gallery in Leningrad, and the panorama of the battle of pineapple Gino in Moscow, And the monuments of Russian commanders and heroes in this war.