Why Napoleon’s Invasion of Russia Was the Beginning of the EndThis proved to be the beginning of the end for Napoleon, who was forced into exile in April After taking power inFrench leader Napoleon Bonaparte won a string of military russian napoleonic war that gave him control over wat of Europe. He annexed present-day Belgium and Holland, along with large chunks of present-day Italy, Croatia and Germany, and he set up dependencies in Rkssian, Poland and russian napoleonic war German states. Spain was largely under his hegemony despite continuing guerilla warfare there, and Austria, Prussia and Russia had been browbeaten into becoming allies. Only Great Britain bulking up for skinny guys completely outside of his grasp.
Why Napoleon’s Invasion of Russia Was the Beginning of the End - History in the Headlines
This proved to be the beginning of the end for Napoleon, who was forced into exile in April After taking power in , French leader Napoleon Bonaparte won a string of military victories that gave him control over most of Europe.
He annexed present-day Belgium and Holland, along with large chunks of present-day Italy, Croatia and Germany, and he set up dependencies in Switzerland, Poland and various German states. Spain was largely under his hegemony despite continuing guerilla warfare there, and Austria, Prussia and Russia had been browbeaten into becoming allies.
Only Great Britain remained completely outside of his grasp. In Napoleon decided to punish the British with an embargo that became known as the Continental System.
But by the end of , Czar Alexander I had stopped complying due to its deleterious effect on Russian trade and the value of the ruble.
Exacerbating tensions was the formation of the Duchy of Warsaw. Though Napoleon created that state from Prussian, not Russian, lands, Alexander worried that it would incite a hostile Polish nationalism, according to D. Sutherland, a history professor at the University of Maryland who has authored two books on the Napoleonic era.
Napoleon, who considered Russia a natural ally since it had no territorial conflicts with France, soon moved to teach Alexander a lesson. In the French emperor raised a massive army of troops from all over Europe, the first of which entered Russia on June In an ominous sign of things to come, an electrical storm pouring down freezing rain, hail and sleet killed a number of troops and horses that very night.
Nonetheless, Napoleon remained confident. They must be pushed back into their ice, so that for the next 25 years they no longer come to busy themselves with the affairs of civilized Europe. In late July, the Russians similarly abandoned Vitebsk, setting fire to military stores and a bridge on their way out.
Then, in mid-August, they retreated from Smolensk and torched that city. Many peasants, meanwhile, burned their crops to prevent them from falling into French hands. Thousands of men died while fighting at Smolensk and elsewhere. But the Russians did not truly make a stand until the September 7 Battle of Borodino, which took place just 75 miles from Moscow.
That day, the French and Russians pounded each other with artillery and launched a number of charges and countercharges. Roughly three canon booms and seven musket shots rang out each second. The losses on both sides were enormous, with total casualties of at least 70, Rather than continue with a second day of fighting, the Russians withdrew and left the road to Moscow open.
Most residents had already escaped the city, leaving behind vast quantities of hard liquor but little food. French troops drank and pillaged while Napoleon waited for Alexander to sue for peace. No offer ever came. With snow flurries having already fallen, Napoleon led his army out of Moscow on October 19 , realizing that it could not survive the winter there.
By this time, Napoleon was down to some , troops, the rest having died, deserted or been wounded, captured or left along the supply line. Originally he planned a southerly retreat, but his troops were forced back to the road they took in after a replenished Russian army engaged them at Maloyaroslavets.
All forage along that route had already been consumed, and when the army arrived at Smolensk it found that stragglers had eaten the food left there. To top it off, an unusually early winter set in, complete with high winds, sub-zero temperatures and lots of snow.
On particularly bad nights, thousands of men and horses succumbed to exposure. Stories abound of soldiers splitting open dead animals and crawling inside for warmth, or stacking dead bodies in windows for insulation. On December 5, Napoleon left the army under the command of Joachim Murat and sped toward Paris amid rumors of a coup attempt. Although the French emperor was able to raise another massive army, this time it was short on both cavalry and experience.
Napoleon won some initial victories against his enemies, but he suffered a crushing defeat in October at the Battle of Leipzig. By the following March, Paris had been captured and Napoleon was forced into exile on the island of Elba. In Napoleon made one more attempt to take power but was overcome at the Battle of Waterloo.
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You will soon receive an email with a direct link to your profile, where you can update your preferences. Battle of Waterloo Small in stature, Napoleon Bonaparte left behind a huge legacy. Print Cite Article Details: Tags Napoleon Bonaparte Russian History.
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