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Hi! My name is Ulrik, and this is my student blog. My posts will be based on tasks and subjects given to the class by my English teacher Ann. I am currently in my third year at Sandvika High School, Norway.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Napoleon's big mistake

On this date, two hundred years ago, the last of Napoleon's Grande Armée was forced out of Russia. 380.000 French men had died on Russian soil, taking 210.000 Russian soldiers with them. The Russian Campaign is the most famous military defeat of all time, and is used as an example of what happens if you try to take Russia during the harsh winter months. To this day, French soldiers are being found by farmers plowing their fields.

The campaign

Russian Troop at Borodino
By crossing the Neman River, Napoleon entered Russia on the 24 of June 1812. With him, he had the  Grande Armée. It consisted of almost half a million men, and they won several smaller battles.
On September 7, Napoleon, Marshal Ney and 130.000 men, met with 120.000 Russian soldiers at Borodino. The battle became the bloodiest single-day battle of the entire war with over 70.000 casualties, including 47 French, and 23 Russian generals. The battle ended with French victory, however, since they were in foreign land, they could not get replacements for the fallen men.
With over forty thousand men less than when he started, Napoleon started marching towards Moscow. On September 14, he entered Moscow expecting a battle. The Russians however, had chosen to retreat and set the city on fire.

Napoleons retreat

After failing to save the city, and trying to make a peace treaty, Napoleon started his retreat from Russia. With the winter closing in, and without winter gear, he probably knew that it would be disastrous. Napoleons troops marched for several months, sometimes in extreme cold. They kept being attacked by Russian cavalry, that tried to destroy as much as possible of Napoleons army. When he finally reached the river he had crossed in June, on December 12, he had lost almost his entire army. The invasion of Russia also caused the European Coalition to declare war on him once and for all. Napoleon managed to gather 400.000 more troops the following year, but he lost once and for all in 1814, before miraculously returning again and loosing at Waterloo in 1815. During the entire war, as many as six million people was killed or badly injured, making it one of the worst wars in European and American history.

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