Turning Point Title: Napoleonís Retreat from Moscow

Place and Date of Event: June 22 1812 Napoleon and the Grande Arme invade

Russia. December 18 1812 what is left of the Grande Arme make it back to


Key Individuals and Roles:

Napoleon: Emperor of France who lead the French Arme and itís allies into


Barclay de Tolly: Commanded 127,000 Russian troops at the start of the

Marshal Kutusov: Russian commander who replaced Barclay in mid August.

Prince Bagration: Commanded 43,000 Russian troops during invasion.

Wairy Louis Constant: Napoleonís valet, who wrote down what he saw and
remembered about the retreat.

Description of the Event: Napoleon took 500,000 infantry, 100,000 cavalry, and

1,400 field and siege guns for the troops on his invasion of Russia. He went up
against Barclaysí and Bagrations troops. Napoleonís strategy was to over power
the Russians and drive them back as far as possible. June 24 French cross

Niemen River at Kovno and Grodna and push Barclay back. Four days French
capture Vilna and stayed there till July 16. Big mistake because this allowed

Russians to unite forces at Smolenskby on August 1. Two weeks later Russians
attack. Russians come away from battle in good shape, but the French come
away in awful condition. Many troops are ill with different diseases and battle
wounds. Russians replace Barclay with Kutusov. French keep trying to push
forward. Another big mistake, they should have waited for winter to clear and
attacked in the spring. Invade all the way to Moscow. When they get there

Russians all ready burnt it to the ground so French have no shelter to stay in.

Napoleon stay at Moscow for 6 weeks. Then the retreat begins. The French
soldiers getting sick of war and kind of turn into a big crowd of men. Then the

Russians attack them when they are so unorganized. End of November French
able to reach Beresina River. All bridges out because water high and ice was
taking them out. French try and make bridges as fast as possible, all the while the

Russians are getting closer. Crossing the bridges was a scene of panic. The

French soldiers were told to leave everything behind and make a break for it. The

Russians stop pursuing the French at the Niemen. French did a good job of killing
themselves. Some froze in the Russian winter, some were trampled getting over
the bridge, others were killed by the Russians, and some were too tired to make it
back to France. Very few troops from Napoleonís Arme made it back to France.

Significance in World History: Napoleon is hated by almost all his Arme after
this failure. He left his troops to die in Russia and people donít forget that.

Countries under Napoleonís rule now feel confident they can beat him. He suffers
his final loss in Waterloo and is imprisoned on Elba by the English. If Napoleon
had not lost in Russia he most likely would have made France the biggest empire
ever, that would still exist today.