In 1812 Napoleon invaded Russia with the largest army Europe had ever seen, composed of troops from France as well as Poland, Germany, Italy and several other allied states. The campaign that followed saw the Russians use scorched earth tactics to deny the enemy supplies, while Napoleon advanced further and further into Russia, searching in vain for the decisive blow that would force Emperor Alexander to negotiate peace.
Even after winning a costly victory at Borodino and occupying Moscow, Napoleon’s invitation to negotiate received no response. Napoleon found himself 500 miles from friendly territory, outnumbered, poorly supplied, and with winter approaching. What followed was one of the most harrowing and disastrous events in military history – the Retreat from Moscow – in which Russian attacks, freezing weather and starvation virtually wiped out the once-proud Grande Armée.
Special thanks to Alexander Averyanov for kind permission to use his paintings ‘Battle of Smolensk’, ‘Artilleryman’s Exploits’, ‘Prince Pyotr Bagration at Borodino: The Last Counterattack’, ‘Horse Guards at the Battle of Borodino’, ‘The Fighting for Shevardino Redoubt’, ‘The Fighting for Bagration Flèches’. ‘Maloyaroslavets’, ‘At Gorodnya 25 October 1812’ and ‘Council of War at Gorodnya’.
Special thanks to Egor Zaitsev for kind permission to use his painting ‘Prayer Before the Battle of Borodino’.