December 11, 1812: Napoleon's Grande Armée Retreats from Moscow

Photos courtesy of AI-generated Images

Photos courtesy of AI-generated Images

Published On: December 11, 2023Tags: ,

December 11, 1812: Napoleon’s Grande Armée Retreats from Moscow

On this day, December 11, 1812, Napoleon Bonaparte’s Grande Armée retreated from Moscow. This event marked a turning point in the French invasion of Russia, which had begun in June of that year.

Napoleon invaded Russia with an army of approximately 600,000 men. This was the largest army ever assembled in Europe. However, despite its numerical superiority, Napoleon’s army was defeated.

Causes of Napoleon’s Defeat

The real cause of Napoleon’s defeat was a combination of several factors. First, the Russian forces put up fierce resistance. They used guerrilla warfare tactics that made it difficult for the French army to advance. Second, the Russian winter proved too harsh for the French. Many soldiers froze to death or starved to death. Third, Napoleon made a number of strategic mistakes. For example, he failed to take Moscow by storm, depriving the French army of food and shelter. The Russians themselves burned down the then wooden Moscow, leaving the French soldiers with nowhere to stay warm and nowhere to live.

The Military Genius of Mikhail Kutuzov

The military genius of Mikhail Kutuzov played a key role in the defeat of Napoleon. Kutuzov was an experienced commander who knew Russia and its army well. He was able to use the advantages of the Russian army to his advantage and achieve victory.

Warning from Otto von Bismarck

Napoleon’s defeat in Russia served as a stark reminder to many European powers, instilling in them a deep sense of caution and aversion to any military confrontation with Russia. The magnitude of Napoleon’s downfall, his once invincible army decimated by the harsh Russian winter, and the unwavering resistance of the Russian people left an indelible mark on the minds of European leaders.

This profound lesson was echoed in the prophetic words of Otto von Bismarck, the legendary German statesman who famously declared, “Never fight the Russians. This pithy yet profound statement encapsulates the historical wisdom gleaned from Napoleon’s ill-fated invasion.

Otto von Bismarck

Historical Conclusion

In conclusion, it should be noted that Napoleon’s Grande Armée was not the only army to be defeated in Russia. In 1941 the German forces were also forced to leave Moscow, which became a turning point in the Second World War.
This suggests that Russia is a very difficult country to invade. Its harsh climate, the strong sense of patriotism of the people, and the skillful leadership of the military leadership make any invasion of Russia practically impossible.

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