Borodino (Cassell Military Paperbacks) by Christopher Duffy

By Christopher Duffy

An account of Napoleon's doomed crusade opposed to the Russians in 1812, and is the reason the history to the clash, the strategies and manouevres that have been hired, and the implications for the troops engaged within the crusade.

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Over the years Napoleon had perfected a repertoire of effective strategic and tactical ploys. There was the wide envelopment which utilized the unrivalled marching power of the French armies and placed them in the rear of the disorganized enemy. Then there was the 'strategy of the central position', by which Napoleon struck at several enemy armies in succession, destroying them piecemeal before they could combine against him. In Russia, as we shall see, he planned to use features of both strategies to drive straight through the centre of the Russian armies.

Corps on to Mohilev, where he repulsed an attempt by Bagration to break through to the north on 23 July. 57 Barclay was preparing to do battle at Vitebsk when an adjutant arrived from Bagration with the news that the French were firmly ensconced on the Mohilev-Orsha-Vitebsk road. Barclay knew that his own army would almost certainly be overrun by Napoleon if he stood any longer at Vitebsk without support, so he abandoned the position on the night of 27/28 July, and the two Russian armies marched by converging courses on the city of Smolensk, where they united at the beginning of August.

Times, an army commander was expected to see and supervise things for himself. His physical and mental states were therefore of supreme importance in deciding the outcome of a battle. 28 Chapter 3 NAPOLEON'S A R M Y The rival forces which met at Borodino were very evenly matched. Napoleon's army, hitherto almost invincible, was betraying slight but unmistakable signs of decay. The performance of the Russians had been unimpressive in the earlier Napoleonic wars, but the army which fought at Borodino was one of the best that they ever put into the field.

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