First Italian Campaign |
The Egyptian Campaign |
Second Italian Campaign |
The Ulm-Austerlitz Campaign |
The Prussian Campaign |
The Peninsular War |
The Austrian War |
The Russian Campaign |
From Lützen to Elba |
The Waterloo Campaign
Russian Campaign, 1812, continued
the approach of winter but reluctant to abandon his conquest,
Napoleon wrote the Tsar proposing negotiations. The Tsar responded
with icy silence. After five weeks of waiting, Napoleon bitterly
ordered his soldiers home.
October 19, laden with spoils, they marched out of the Kremlin
through the Gate of the Savior. It was a warm Fall day. Three
weeks later it began to snow. The Russian winter had arrived
fell to twenty-two degrees below zero. Napoleon's soldiers
froze in the open countryside. "Our lips stuck together,"
one soldier wrote. "Our nostrils froze. We seemed to be marching
in a world of ice."
You cant imagine the suffering of the Russian
retreat. When they spoke, their breath froze with a little
dry sound; their words were freezing in the air.
ran out. Horses died by the thousands. Hungry soldiers quarreled
over the horseflesh. They were fighting starvation, cold,
fatigue, disease and the Cossacks.
Cossacks harried Napoleons flanks, tearing at his army
as if it were a wounded animal. Russian peasants showed no
mercy on the stragglers, torturing the sick and wounded, and anyone
The army is being eaten away, because it is being attacked
on all sides. So the army fell apart, little by little.
French army barely existed as a fighting force. Napoleon watched
as his army slowly died. Fearing capture, he carried in a little
black leather bag tied around his neck a vial of poison. His
fighting spirit revived briefly as he fought off hesitant
Russian troops to cross the ice-packed Berezina River. The
French were forced to retreat, but in Napoleon's eyes it was
victory. What remained of his defeated army straggled toward
months before, he had crossed into Russia with more than a half
million soldiers, confident of victory. Now, on December 5,
rumors of a coup in Paris forced him to abandon his troops
and head back to the French capital.
his sled made its way across Europe, he told a companion:
"Its just one step between the sublime and the