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Encyclopedia > Battle of Borodino
Battle of Borodino
Part of French invasion of Russia (1812)

Napoleon I on the Borodino Heights, by Vasily Vereshchagin (1897)
Date September 7, 1812
Location Borodino, Russia
Result inconclusive; tactical French victory
Combatants
First French Empire Russian Empire
Commanders
Napoleon I Mikhail Kutuzov
Strength
82,400 infantry
26,700 cavalry
14,900 artillery troops with 587 guns[1]
72,000 infantry
17,300 cavalry
14,500 artillery troops with 637 guns[2]
Casualties
~6,600 killed
~21,400 wounded [3]
~43,000 killed or wounded
~1,000 captured
20 guns lost[4]
Napoleon's invasion of Russia
OstrovnoKlyastitsySmolensk1st PolotskValutinoBorodinoTarutinoMaloyaroslavets2nd PolotskCzasnikiVyazmaSmolianiKrasnoiBerezina

The Battle of Borodino (Russian: Бородинская битва, French: Bataille de la Moskowa) (September 7, 1812, or August 26 in the Julian calendar then used in Russia), was the largest and bloodiest single-day battle of the Napoleonic Wars, involving more than a quarter of a million soldiers. Combatants First French Empire Kingdom of Italy Kingdom of Naples Duchy of Warsaw Confederation of the Rhine Kingdom of Bavaria Kingdom of Saxony Kingdom of Westphalia Swiss Confederation Austrian Empire Kingdom of Prussia Russian Empire Commanders Napoleon Eugène de Beauharnais Jérôme Bonaparte Jaques MacDonald Prince Schwarzenberg Alexander... Image File history File links Napoleon-borodino. ... Vasily Vereshchagin Vasili Vasilyevich Vereshchagin (1842 - 1904) was the most famous Russian battle painter and the first Russian artist to be widely recognized abroad. ... September 7 is the 250th day of the year (251st in leap years). ... For the overture by Tchaikovsky, see 1812 Overture; For the wars, see War of 1812 (USA - United Kingdom) or Patriotic War of 1812 (France - Russia) For the Siberia Airlines plane crashed over the Black Sea on October 4, 2001, see Siberia Airlines Flight 1812 1812 was a leap year starting... The Battle of Borodino (September 7, 1812 (August 26 in the Old Style Russian calendar)), also called the Battle of the Moskova, was the largest single-day battle of the Napoleonic Wars and arguably the greatest battle in human history up to that date, involving nearly quarter a million soldiers. ... Image File history File links Flag_of_France. ... Map of the First French Empire in 1811, with the Empire in dark blue and sattelite states in light blue Capital Paris Language(s) French Government Monarchy Emperor  - 1804-1814/1815 Napoleon I Napoleon II Legislature Parliament  - Upper house Senate  - Lower house Corps législatif History  - French Consulate  - Established 18... Image File history File links Flag_of_Russia. ... Anthem God Save the Tsar! The Russian Empire in 1914 Capital Saint Petersburg Language(s) Russian Government Monarchy Emperor  - 1721-1725 Peter the Great (first)  - 1894-1917 Nicholas II (last) History  - Established 22 October, 1721  - February Revolution 2 March, 1917 Area  - 1897 22,400,000 km2 8,648,688 sq... Image File history File links Flag_of_France. ... Napoleon I Bonaparte, Emperor of the French, King of Italy, Mediator of the Swiss Confederation and Protector of the Confederation of the Rhine (15 August 1769 – 5 May 1821) was a general of the French Revolution, the ruler of France as First Consul (Premier Consul) of the French Republic from... Image File history File links Flag_of_Russia. ... Prince Mikhail Illarionovich Golenishchev-Kutuzov (September 16, 1745 – April 28, 1813 (n. ... Combatants First French Empire Kingdom of Italy Kingdom of Naples Duchy of Warsaw Confederation of the Rhine Kingdom of Bavaria Kingdom of Saxony Kingdom of Westphalia Swiss Confederation Austrian Empire Kingdom of Prussia Russian Empire Commanders Napoleon Eugène de Beauharnais Jérôme Bonaparte Jaques MacDonald Prince Schwarzenberg Alexander... Combatants Russian Empire First French Empire Commanders General Ostermann-Tolstoy Joachim Murat, King of Naples Strength 14,000 - 20,000 troops 22,000 to 28,000 Casualties 3,000 killed and wounded, 800 prisoners, eight guns 3,300 The Battle of Ostrovno took place on July 25 and 26 1812... Combatants Russian Empire First French Empire Commanders Prince Peter Wittgenstein Nicolas Oudinot Strength 17,000–22,000 23,000–28,000 Casualties 3,500–4,500 5,500 dead, 1000 prisoners The Battle of Klyastitsy is a relatively minor engagement which took place near the village of Klyastitsy (Russian: Клястицы) (Drissa... The First Battle of Smolensk took place on August 17, 1812, between 175,000 French under Napoleon Bonaparte and 130,000 Russians under Prince Bagration, of whom about 50,000 and 60,000 respectively were actually engaged. ... Combatants Russian Empire First French Empire Commanders Prince Peter Wittgenstein Nicolas Oudinot, Marquis Laurent Gouvion Saint-Cyr Strength 22,000 troops; 135 cannon 18,000 troops; 120 cannon Casualties 4,500-5,500 6,000 In the First battle of Polotsk, which took place on August 17-18, 1812, Russian... The Battle of Valutino took place on August 9, 1812, between Marshal Neys corps, about 30,000 strong, and a strong rear-guard of General Barclay de Tollys army of about 40,000, commanded by the General himself. ... Combatants Russian Empire First French Empire Commanders Count Levin August von Bennigsen Vice-King Joachim Murat Strength 97,000 present, only 36,000 of whom actually participated in the battle. ... The Battle of Maloyaroslavets took place on October 24, 1812, between the Russians, under Marshal Kutuzov, and part of the corps of Eugène de Beauharnais, Napoleons son_in_law, under General Delzons with numbered about 20,000 strong. ... Combatants Russian Empire First French Empire Commanders Prince Peter Wittgenstein Laurent Gouvion Saint-Cyr Strength 31,000 regular troops, 9,000 militia, 9,000 regular troops operating independently; total of 49,000 23,000 to 27,000 Casualties 8,000-12,500 8,000 At the Second Battle of Polotsk... Combatants Russian Empire First French Empire Commanders Prince Peter Wittgenstein Marshal Victor Strength 30,000, of whom 11,000 were involved 36,000, of whom 10,000 to 18,000 were involved Casualties 400 1200 The Battle of Czasniki was fought during Napoleons invasion of Russia, on 31 October... Combatants Russian Empire First French Empire Commanders General Mikhail Miloradovich Louis Nicolas Davout, Eugene de Beauharnais, Józef Antoni Poniatowski, and Michel Ney Strength 26,500 troops, 37,000, of whom 24,000 took part in the battle Casualties 1,800 killed and wounded 8,000, including 4,000 taken... Combatants Russian Empire First French Empire Commanders Prince Peter Wittgenstein Marshal Claude Victor and Marshal Nicholas Oudinot Strength 30,000 troops approximately 25,000 troops available; 6,000 involved on the 1st day; 5,000 involved on the 2nd day Casualties 3000 3000 At the Battle of Smoliani (November 13... Combatants First French Empire Russian Empire Commanders Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte Mikhail Illarionovich Kutuzov Strength 42,000 regulars, 39,000 stragglers 60,000-80,000 Casualties 6,000-13,000 killed, 20,000-26,000 captured ~ (almost all stragglers) 5,000 The Battle of Krasnoi (Krasny) (November 15 to 18, 1812... Battle of Berezina was held on November 26-29, 1812 between the French army of Napoleon retreating after his invasion of Russia and crossing the Berezina, and Russian army under Kutuzov. ... Moskva River (Москва́), also known as the Moscow River, is a small river over 400 miles long, situated in Russia, Eastern Europe. ... September 7 is the 250th day of the year (251st in leap years). ... For the overture by Tchaikovsky, see 1812 Overture; For the wars, see War of 1812 (USA - United Kingdom) or Patriotic War of 1812 (France - Russia) For the Siberia Airlines plane crashed over the Black Sea on October 4, 2001, see Siberia Airlines Flight 1812 1812 was a leap year starting... August 26 is the 238th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar (239th in leap years). ... The Julian calendar was introduced in 46 BC by Julius Caesar and came into force in 45 BC (709 ab urbe condita). ... Combatants Allies: Austria[1] Portugal Prussia[1] Russia[2] Spain[3] Sweden United Kingdom[4] Ottoman Empire[5] French Empire Holland Kingdom of Italy Kingdom of Naples Duchy of Warsaw Bavaria[6] Saxony[7] Denmark [8] Commanders Archduke Charles Prince Schwarzenberg Karl Mack von Leiberich Gebhard von Blücher Karl...


It was fought by the French Grande Armée under Napoleon I and the Imperial Russian army of General Mikhail Kutusov near the village of Borodino, west from the town of Mozhaysk. The battle ended with frustrated tactical results, although the French captured the main positions on the battlefield. Strategic considerations and the poor condition of the army forced the Russians to withdraw. The clash at Borodino was a pivotal point in the campaign as it was the last offensive battle fought by Napoleon in Russia. La Grande Armée (in English, the Big or Grand Army) is the French military term for the main force in a military campaign. ... Napoleon I Bonaparte, Emperor of the French, King of Italy, Mediator of the Swiss Confederation and Protector of the Confederation of the Rhine (15 August 1769 – 5 May 1821) was a general of the French Revolution, the ruler of France as First Consul (Premier Consul) of the French Republic from... Imperial Russia is the term used to cover the period of history from the expansion of Russia under Peter the Great, through the expansion of the Russian Empire from the Baltic Sea to the Pacific Ocean, to the deposal of Nicholas II of Russia, the last tsar, at the start... Mikhail Kutuzov Prince Mikhail Illarionovich Golenishchev-Kutuzov (Russian: ) (September 16, 1745 – April 28, 1813 (n. ... Mozhaysk (Можа́йск) is a town in Moscow Oblast, Russia, 110 km to the west from the Russian capital, on the historic road leading to Smolensk and then to Belarus. ... Combatants First French Empire Kingdom of Italy Kingdom of Naples Duchy of Warsaw Confederation of the Rhine Kingdom of Bavaria Kingdom of Saxony Kingdom of Westphalia Swiss Confederation Austrian Empire Kingdom of Prussia Russian Empire Commanders Napoleon Eugène de Beauharnais Jérôme Bonaparte Jaques MacDonald Prince Schwarzenberg Alexander...

Contents

Background

Kutuzov at Borodino
Kutuzov at Borodino

The French Grande Armée had begun the invasion of Russia in June, 1812. Alexander I proclaimed a Patriotic War in defence of the motherland. The Russian forces — previously massing on the Polish frontier — fell back before the invaders in the face of the speedy French advance (see main article on the invasion). Count Michael Barclay de Tolly was commander-in-chief of the Russian army. His attempts at forming a defensive line were thwarted time and again by the fast moving French line, but Barclay's constant retreat was nevertheless perceived as an unwillingness to fight, and he was removed. The new Russian commander, Prince Mikhail Kutuzov, although much more fierce in his rhetoric, was also unable to establish a defensive position until within 125 kilometers of Moscow. Kutuzov picked an eminently defensible area near the village of Borodino and from September 3 strengthened it with earthworks, notably the Rayevski Redoubt in the center-right of the line and three open arrow-shaped 'Bagration fleches' to the left. This image is in the public domain because its copyright has expired in the United States and those countries with a copyright term of life of the author plus 100 years. ... This image is in the public domain because its copyright has expired in the United States and those countries with a copyright term of life of the author plus 100 years. ... Mikhail Kutuzov Prince Mikhail Illarionovich Golenishchev-Kutuzov (Russian: ) (September 16, 1745 – April 28, 1813 (n. ... La Grande Armée (in English, the Big or Grand Army) is the French military term for the main force in a military campaign. ... Aleksandr I Pavlovich (Russian: Александр I Павлович) (December 23, 1777–December 1, 1825?), was Emperor of Russia from 23 March 1801-1 December 1825 and Ruler of Poland from 1815–1825, as well as the first Grand Duke of Finland. ... Kazan Cathedral in St Petersburg and the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow were built to commemorate the Russian victory against Napoleon. ... Kazan Cathedral in St Petersburg and the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow were built to commemorate the Russian victory against Napoleon. ... Knyaz Michael Andreas Barclay de Tolly, called by the Russians as Mikhail Bogdanovich Barklay de Tolly (Михаи́л Богда́нович Баркла́й-де-То́лл&#1080... Mikhail Kutuzov Prince Mikhail Illarionovich Golenishchev-Kutuzov (Russian: ) (September 16, 1745 – April 28, 1813 (n. ... Location Position of Moscow in Europe Government Country District Subdivision Russia Central Federal District Federal City Mayor Yuriy Luzhkov Geographical characteristics Area  - City 1,081 km² Population  - City (2007)    - Density 10,469,000   9684. ... Earthworks can refer to: Civil engineering earthworks based on moving massive quantites of soil; The Earthworks audio equipment company; The novel Earthworks by Brian Aldiss; The earthworks style of art. ... Portrait by George Dawe in the Military Gallery For other uses, see Nikolay Raevsky (disambiguation). ... A redoubt is a fort or fort system usually consisting of an enclosed defensive emplacement outside a larger fort. ... Prince Pyotr Bagration (Пётр Иванович Багратион) (1765 - September 12, 1812), a descendant of the Georgian Royal family of the Bagrations, served as a Russian general. ... Redan is a term from fortifications. ...


Opposing forces

The Russian forces present at Borodino were 180 infantry battalions, 164 cavalry squadrons, 20 Cossack Regiments, and 55 artillery batteries with 637 artillery pieces, in total the Russians had 103,800 troops [5]. There were 7,000 Cossack as well as 10,000 Russian militia in the area, but did not take part in the battle [6]. After the battle militia units were broken up to provide reinforcements for third lines of depleted regular battalions. Of the 637 Russian artillery pieces 300 were held in reserve, many of these guns were never committed to battle [7]. Reply of the Zaporozhian Cossacks to Sultan Mehmed IV of Ottoman Empire. ...


The French forces present at Borodino were 214 battalions of infantry, 317 squadrons of cavalry and 587 artillery pieces in total the French had 124,000 troops [8]. However, the French Imperial Guard, which consisted of 30 infantry battalions, 27 cavalry squadrons and 109 artillery pieces, 18,500 troops in total was never committed to battle [9]. The Imperial Guard (French:Garde impériale) was originally a small group of elite soldiers of the French Army under the direct command of Napoleon I, but grew considerably over time. ...


Battle

Battle of Borodino
Battle of Borodino
Battle of Borodino, Peter von Hess, 1843
Battle of Borodino, Peter von Hess, 1843

Napoleon's conduct during the battle suggests that his tactical decisions were marred by his efforts to avoid a "Pyrrhic victory". He was also suffering from a fever at the time, which may explain his uncharacteristic detachment from the battle as well as his unusually simplistic battle plan.[10] Image File history File links Wiki_letter_w. ... Download high resolution version (1220x654, 125 KB) Wikipedia does not have an article with this exact name. ... Download high resolution version (1220x654, 125 KB) Wikipedia does not have an article with this exact name. ... Download high resolution version (2560x1615, 297 KB) Wikipedia does not have an article with this exact name. ... Download high resolution version (2560x1615, 297 KB) Wikipedia does not have an article with this exact name. ... A Pyrrhic victory is a victory with devastating cost to the victor. ... An analogue medical thermometer showing the temperature of 38. ...


When Napoleon was faced with the Russian defences his usual tactical skill appears to have left him, although regular bouts with illness since entering Russia might be to blame for this lack of genius. He ordered a frontal assault straight at the Russians. It is believed he was seeking a decisive encounter that would destroy the Russian army in one day. The initial French attack was successful if costly; the King of Naples, Joachim Murat, directed a joint cavalry and infantry attack that by early afternoon had broken through the Russian line and seized the Rayevski Redoubt, lost it and retaken it. But the Russians committed their reserves and the battle ground down into a bloody attritional mess. Even with the Russians nearly at breaking point, Napoleon would not commit to sending in the French Imperial Guard, fearing a battle possible the next day. A Russian counter-attack was broken by artillery; and as night fell, both sides disengaged. At night, after discussing with his officers, Kutuzov decided not to resume battle the next day and retreat, allowing the French to take Moscow. He had doubts that the Russian army could withstand another day of battle, and thought it was more important to preserve its strength rather than try to save Moscow at all cost. In retrospect, it was a wise decision. For other uses, see Napoleon (disambiguation). ... Naples (Italian: , Neapolitan: Nàpule, from Greek Νεάπολη < Νέα Πόλις Néa Pólis New City) Capital of the Campania region and the Province of Naples. ... Joachim Murat, King of Naples, Marshal of France Murat portrait, by François Pascal Simon, Baron Gérard, c. ... Alternate uses at Imperial guard The Imperial Guard was originally a small group of elite soldiers under the direct command of Napoleon I, but grew considerably over time. ...


Statistical discussion

Casualty estimates vary dramatically. The French are said to have suffered 28,000 dead and wounded including 48 generals, according to historian Adam Zamoyski. Others put the figure as high as 50,000 (Stephen Pope). The Russians lost between 38,500 - 58,000 (45,000 is the generally accepted number). Some believe that combined casualties were as high as 125,000, but this is unlikely. The lowest casualty estimates (28,000 French and 38,500 Russians) together give a combined total of 66,500. The casualty figures, except for the lowest estimates, are high enough to make the Battle of Borodino the bloodiest single-day battle in modern human history, although such a statement is hardly uncontroversial (see Discussion). Though other modern battles may have ended with a higher number of casualties (the Somme, Battle of Stalingrad), none seems to have surpassed Borodino in only a single day. Controversial casualty figures of ancient times make accurate comparison with them problematical. Adam Zamoyski - Wikipedia /**/ @import /skins/monobook/IE50Fixes. ... Somme is a French département, named after the Somme River, located in the north of France. ... Combatants Germany Italy Hungary Romania Slovakia Soviet Union Commanders Maximilian von Weichs Friedrich Paulus # Erich von Manstein Hermann Hoth Italo Garibaldi Gusztav Jany Petre Dumitrescu Constantin Constantinescu Vasiliy Chuikov Aleksandr Vasilyevskiy Georgiy Zhukov Semyon Timoshenko Konstantin Rokossovsky Rodion Malinovsky Strength German Sixth Army German Fourth Panzer Army Romanian Third Army...


Around 8,500 casualties were sustained each hour of the conflict— the equivalent of a full-strength company wiped out every minute. In some divisions casualties exceeded 80% of the strength prior to the battle.

Modern reenactment of the battle.
Modern reenactment of the battle.

Adam Zamoyski, in his in-depth account of the Russian campaign, estimates that 1,400,000 rounds were discharged by the French infantry and a further 60,000 to 91,000 by the artillery. This averages as 2,300 rounds of musketry per minute from the French. Image File history File links Borodino4. ... Image File history File links Borodino4. ...


The cavalry assault on the Russian redoubt was not made by the French army, but led by Major Friedrich Wilhelm Carl Luffleholtz von Colberg, in command of the Saxon Heavy Cavalry, and by Oberstleutnant Christian Günther von Selmitz, leading the Zastrow Cuirassiers.


Aftermath

The Russian retreat opened the way for the French to seize Moscow on September 14, 1812. September 14 is the 257th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar (258th in leap years). ... For the overture by Tchaikovsky, see 1812 Overture; For the wars, see War of 1812 (USA - United Kingdom) or Patriotic War of 1812 (France - Russia) For the Siberia Airlines plane crashed over the Black Sea on October 4, 2001, see Siberia Airlines Flight 1812 1812 was a leap year starting...


The battle was famously described by Leo Tolstoy in his novel War and Peace as "a continuous slaughter which could be of no avail either to the French or the Russians". A huge panorama representing the battle was painted by Franz Roubaud for the centenary of Borodino and installed on the Poklonnaya Hill in Moscow to mark the 150th anniversary of the event. Count Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy (Russian: , IPA:  ), commonly referred to in English as Leo Tolstoy (September 9 [O.S. August 28] 1828 – November 20 [O.S. November 7] 1910) was a Russian novelist, writer, essayist, philosopher, Christian anarchist, pacifist, educational reformer, moral thinker, and an influential member of the Tolstoy family. ... War and Peace (Russian: Война и мир, Voyna i mir; in original orthography: Война и мiръ, Voyna i mir) is an epic novel by Leo Tolstoy, first published from 1865 to 1869 in Russki Vestnik, which tells the story of Russian society during the Napoleonic Era. ... Franz Alekseevitch Roubaud was a Russian painter. ... Night view of the hill from Kutuzov Avenue. ...


There exists the tradition to replay the battle at the same place on August 26. At the battlefield today the 'Bagration fleches' are still preserved; there is also a modest monument to the French soldiers fallen in the battle, and also remnants of the trenches from the 7 day battle fought at the same battlefield in 1941 between the Soviet and the German armies (which took fewer human lives than the one of 1812). Prince Pyotr Bagration (Пётр Иванович Багратион) (1765 - September 12, 1812), a descendant of the Georgian Royal family of the Bagrations, served as a Russian general. ... Redan is a term from fortifications. ...

Raevsky Battery at Borodino, details of Roubaud's panoramic painting.

Image File history File links Raevsky_battery. ... Image File history File links Raevsky_battery. ... Portrait by George Dawe in the Military Gallery For other uses, see Nikolay Raevsky (disambiguation). ... Franz Alekseevitch Roubaud was a Russian painter. ... Scheveningen village, a small section of the Panorama Mesdag (1880-1881), with fake terrain in the foreground. ...

Footnotes

  1. ^ Riehn. pg. 479.
  2. ^ Riehn. pg. 476.
  3. ^ Smith, D. pg.391
  4. ^ Smith, D. pg.392
  5. ^ Riehn. p.476
  6. ^ Smith. p.392
  7. ^ Smith. p.392
  8. ^ Riehn. p.479
  9. ^ Riehn. p.478
  10. ^ David Chandler, The Campaigns of Napoleon. p. 807. Chandler writes, Moreover, his ill health does much to explain, if not to excuse, his remarkable lack of energy throughout the day. As he had said years earlier, "Health is indispensable in war." Illness made him both fretful and excessively cautious.

References

  • Chandler, David. Dictionary of the Napoleonic Wars (Wordsworth editions Ltd., 1999).
  • Chandler, David G. The Campaigns of Napoleon. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1995. ISBN 0-02-523660-1
  • Markham, David. Napoleon for Dummies (Wiley Pub Inc., 2005).
  • Riehn, Richard K. Napoleon's Russian Campaign, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2005.
  • Smith, D. The Greenhill Napoleonic Wars Data Book. Greenhill Books, 1998.

Monuments

Image File history File links Borodino1. ... Image File history File links Borodino2. ... Image File history File links Borodino5. ... Image File history File links Download high-resolution version (600x794, 43 KB) A 19th-century monument to the Battle of Borodino, on the field of Borodino. ...

External links

Coordinates: 55°30.51′N, 35°49.27′E Map of Earth showing lines of latitude (horizontally) and longitude (vertically), Eckert VI projection; large version (pdf, 1. ...


  Results from FactBites:
 
The Battle of Borodino (1646 words)
General Plauzonne, however, seeing that the intrepid soldiers of the 106th Regiment were allowing themselves to be separated and were not waiting for the rear of their column to come up, ordered them to halt so as to offer a combined resistance to a Russian column which was coming down to crush them.
At that very moment, however, General Plauzonne was killed, and in the momentary confusion into which his death threw his men, the Russians swept down on them and very few of the brave fellows escaped.
The battle now seemed to be approaching its close.
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