Battle of Borodino 1812

Celebrating 200th Anniversary of The Battle of Borodino

This summer will be very interesting, taking in account a lot of beautiful events in Russia. One of this events will be the Anniversary of The Battle of Borodino. 200 years ago Russian soldiers showed heroism and willpower to protect the Motherland at the Borodino Battle. At this article I will describe the details of this historical event.

The Borodino battle – one of the largest and important battles in history of Russia. It is considered, that this battle is the most bloody one-day battle in mankind history. The Emperor of France Napoleon spoke after Borodino: «The Borodino battle was the finest and the most terrible. Frenchmen have proved to be worthy to win, a Russian have deserved to be invincible».

Background

Before the Borodino battle Russian army receded, not having possibility to give to Frenchmen general fight. The French army included armies of Italians, Germans, Dutches and exceeded on number of soldiers and guns. Before the Borodino Russian army totaled 120 000 of soldiers, French – 140  000 of soldiers. Since there was no more possibility to recede, the Emperor of Russian Empire Alexander I ordered to give to Napoleon a decisive battle. The Russian generals led by Michael Kutuzov had chosen a hilly place around village Borodino on which the key defensive works have been constructed.

The battle plan

Kutuzov’s plan consisted in constructing very strengthened defensive works which will allow to stop attacks of Frenchmen, will force them to sustain the big losses and will change a parity of forces. Therefore there has been built on the 2 strengthenings on the left flank (where Napoleon’s basic blow was planned to be) – Raevsky Redoubt and Bagration’s flèches. Napoleon, having advantage in soldiers and guns, planned to break through the left flank, to press Russians to Moscow river and break all.

The central event

The Borodino battle has begun on September, 7th, 1812 with attack of Frenchmen to the right flank. They managed  to seize the village Borodino, however it didn’t give any strategic effect because further actions were blocked by the river Kolocha.

Napoleon has begun attack to the left flank – Bagration’s flèches. In 1 km he has concentrated his basic artillery arsenal – 400 guns. However the courage and heroism of Russian soldiers did not allow Frenchmen to seize flèches. Several times Frenchmen seized a southern part of defensive works, but each time they were knock out from there. According to the words of eyewitnesses there was a very bloody fight: already up to 8 o’clock in the morning all earth near to Bagration’s flèches has been covered with dead soldiers and horses, the basic French commanders – Dessaix, Compans, Davout and others have been wounded. As a result Napoleon ordered to concentrate all forces on the left flank and attacks proceeded. But only 8th attack was successful: the commander of Russian defence Bagration has been wounded and Russian started to recede. Frenchmen by huge losses managed to take hold of flèches and removed Russian positions on 1 km.

Don Cossack’s Reid  and the fight for the Raevsky Redoubt

Kutuzov has tried to change the course of battle, having ordered to attack a cavalry of Don Cossacks under command of Platov and Uvarov from the right flank and in back of French Army. This sudden blow has brought a distemper in the French army and has not allowed them to strengthen success on the left flank. Having beaten off blow of Russian cavalry of Platov and Uvarov, Napoleon has concentrated the basic forces in the center, intending to take Raevsky Redoubt (we call it the Battery of Raevsky). It has started up with the attack of well-known French cavalry, however it has met fierce resistance. As a result Raevsky Redoubt Frenchmen named «a tomb of the French cavalry». With the price of huge losses Napoleon managed to remove Russian armies from the Raevsky Redoubt by the end of day. French Army had only The Guard as a reserve. However, Napoleon personally arrived at the battlefield, and seeing the heroism and firmness of Russian defenders, Napoleon has refused to use reserves, having said: «I cannot risk last reserve so far away from Paris». By the evening he has taken away his armies on initial positions.

Results of the Battle of Borodino

Borodino Battle Monument on Raevsky Redout

Russian have lost in the Borodino battle over 44 thousand of people, Frenchmen and their allies – over 58 thousand. Main result was that it has not allowed Napoleon to overcome Russian in decisive battle. It has broken his strategic plan, which led to defeat in war as well.

Russians have shown surprising power of will and heroism in this battle – Russian soldiers did not surrender in a captivity, carried away wounded men from a battlefield, and fought to death. That caused bewilderment in French Army. These qualities – power of will and heroism – the integral characteristic of any Russian person.

I hope you liked this article and will come to Russia at September to see the event on Borodino field. If you want some details you can write a comment below, I’ll tell you what is planned on Anniversary of The Battle of Borodino this year.

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Oleg Vinzhegin,

Your personal guide into the world of excellent Russian speaking

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About Oleg Vinzhegin

Your personal guide into the world of excellent Russian speaking

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