The Battle of Borodino, 1812.
"Of all my 50 battles, the most terrible was
the one I fought at Moscow (Borodino)"

- Napoleon

1. Invasion of Russia, 1812.
2. French Army at Borodino. - Russian Army.
3. Deployment of Troops.
4. The Battle.
5. Six Attacks on 'Bagration Fleches'
6. Fight For Raievski Redoubt
7. Saxons' Charge.
8. Poniatowski on the Flank.
9. Breakthrough.
10. Cossacks' Raid.
11. Grand Cavalry Charge & the Capture of Death Redoubt.
12. The End of Battle. Casualties

Battle of Borodino 1812, picture by Oleg Parkhaiev

Battle of Shevardino (5 Sept), and Battle of Borodino (7 Sept).
While pursuing the Russian rear guard Napoleon's advance guard came at Shevardino.
It was the left flank of the Russian army deployed behind Kolocha River to prevent
the French from advancing along the Smolensk road to Moscow.
Davout's and Murat's troops attacked the Russian rear guard at Shevardino.
Poniatowski drove the Russians out of Yelnia and joined Davout and Murat.
After a ferocious fight, the French captured the redoubt.
On Sep 7th the Battle of Borodino begun.

In March 1811 a comet was seen over Europe.
By autumn it lit up the sky from Lisbon to Moscow.
The people prepared themselves for some
extraordinary event.

Napoleon's Invasion of Russia, 1812
'The Great Patriotic War' for the Russians
'The Second Polish War' for Napoleon

Napoleon and his battle-hardened 
generals, by Meissonier William Napier writes: "In 1811 the Emperor's power over the continent, as far as the frontier of Russia, was, in fact, absolute; and in France internal prosperity was enjoyed with external glory. But the Emperor of Russia, stimulated by English diplomacy and by a personal discontent, in dread also of his nobles, who were impatient under the losses which the continental system inflictem upon them, was plainly in opposition to the ascendency of France ... " (Napier - Vol III, p 192)
The year of 1812 was full of events taking place all around the world. In February Russia established fur trading colonies in California (ext.link) and Oregon. In June began war between USA (population 6 millions) and Great Britain (18 millions). Napoleon said: "If this rupture had occurred earlier it might perhaps have contributed to keep Tsar Alexander inside the Continental System !" And in fact an American army will shortly - if not very successfully - be invading Canada. In 1812 France's position was one of unprecedented power. It was, in all probability, the highest point of Napoleon's glory. "Now begins the finest epoch of my reign" - he exclaimed. Over the past decade he had turned France into an Empire which included the whole of Belgium, Holland and the North Sea coast uo to Hamburg, the Rhineland, the whole Switzerland, Piedmont, Liguria, Tuscany, the Papal States, Illyria and Catalonia, and ruled directly over some 45 million people. The French Empire was surrounded by a number of dependent states.
"He (Napoleon) had managed to destroy the unity of purpose which had fed the coalitions against France for so long. Austria, Russia and Prussia were now as ready to fight each other as to fight France, the original repugnance to treat with 'the Corsican upstart' had largely evaporated, his imperial title was recognised across the Continent, and the Bourbon pretender Louis XVIII was beginning to look like an anachronism. Yet Napoleon was keenly aware of his continuing vulnerability, for nothing had been finally settled ... The real problem facing Napoleon was how to achieve some kind of finality and to fill his conquests into a system that would guarantee his and his successors' position. While others regarded him as a megalomaniac bent on conquering all, he saw his wars as defensive, aimed at guaranteeing France's security as well as his own." (Zamoyski - "Moscow 1812" pp 10-11)

Causes of War
Only few countries in Europe remained independent from France. England and Sweden were protected by water, but Russia not ! In 1812 Napoleon's splendid Grande Armée, 600,000 men (270,000 French) strong was assembled along the line of the Niemen River. The Grande Armee of 1812 was the largest European force ever assembled up to that time and included Germans from the states of the Confederation of the Rhine, Poles, Spanish, Portuguese, Austrians, Prussians and Italians, by 'fear or favor' all allied with the French under the 'Emperor of Battles' to fight the eastern nemisis. The main causes for Napoleon's invasion were:
Russia's commitment to Napoleon's Continental System was a mere lip-service.
(The Continental System was embargo of British goods adopted by Napoleon in his economic warfare with Britain. It caused great hardship in England, there was a spate of business failures and strikes throughout the country. Large-scale smuggling thrived all along the European coast. The Continental System was ruinous not only for the British but also for the Russians. In 1807 Tsar promised to implement it but Russia chafed under the embargo, and in 1812 reopened trade with Britain. Napoleon dreamed about crushing the British economical empire. Napoleon: "Imagine Moscow taken - Russia crushed - the Tsar reconciled or dead in some palace conspiracy ... And tell me whether we a great army of Frenchmen and auxiliaries from Tiflis would have to do more than touch the Ganges River with a French sword for the whole scafolding of Britain's mercantile greatness to collapse." - Austin "1812: The March on Moscow" p 31)
Differences between France and Russia over influence in Poland and the Balkans.
(Russia under Peter the Great expanded westward towards Europe, absorbing Poland and Lithuania. Under Napoleon however the Polish Grand Duchy of Warsaw was created. According to Adam Zamojski Napoleon was determined to hold the possibility of the reunification of the Kingdom of Poland as a carrot before the Poles, a semi-sincere promise to ensure loyalty. Alexander, on the other hand, saw a reunified Poland as a serious threat to the integrity of Russia.)

'The Second Polish War'
(For the French and Napoleon)

Napoleon proclaimed 'Second Polish war' but against expectations of Poles that gave 100,000 soldiers to his army he avoided any concessions toward Poland having in mind further negotations with Russia. But with the reconquered Russian lands, Poland would have recovered all of her former domains. The Duchy of Warsaw became a bastion of France, and 100,000 Polish troops stood ready to fight for Napoleon and independence. The Poles waited for the moment when Napoleon would pronounce the sacred words "independent Poland" but he never uttered these words.
In spite of his continuous assurances that "the dangerous Polish dreams" as Alexander called them, would never be permitted realization, the Russian monarch was forever restive. He demanded that the word "Poles" be not used in public documents, that Polish orders be abolished and that the Polish army be considered as a part of that of Saxony. When Napoleon appeared at Kovno he wore the cap and uniform of a Polish officer. The dispersion, however, of the Polish regiments among the various French corps was strongly resented by the Poles.
For nowhere else had Napoleon a more loyal and devoted ally than the Poles who stood by him through thick and thin and did not abandon him until his very last hour. They formed a striking contrast to the Prussians under Yorck, who as soon as Napoleon's defeat became known joined the Russians, as did also the Austrians.] The Polish populace considered Napoleon and his troops as friends and liberators. This is confirmed by many French offices who campaigned in Poland. Parquin writes: "After our passage of the [Vistula] river ... the enemy [Russians] gave way and we occupied the Polish villages, where we were received like brothers by the people, miserably poor though they were." (Parquin - "Napoleon's Victories" p 63)

'The Great Patriotic War'
(For the Russians Otechestvennaya Voyna)

Actually Russia fought two great patriotic wars, one against Napoleon and his Grand Army in 1812, another against Hitler and the mighty German Wehrmacht between 1941-5.
In 1812 the Russian armies opposing Napoleon sought to avoid open battle and turned to attrition warfare. They left nothing behind that was of use, burned crops and villages, while the bold Cossacks constantly harassed the invaders. Chlapowski of Old Guard Lancers writes: "As the Russian Army retreated, they were burning most of the villages and forcing the inhabitants to load up their carts with their pitiful belongings and flee with their livestock to Moscow." (Chlapowski, - p 115) Russian strategy of retreat and scorched earth was very tough on Napoleon's soldiers. The Russians fell back but as the summer wore on, Napoleon's supply and communication lines were stretched to maximum. By September without having engaged in a major battle, Napoleon's army had been reduced by more than half from fatigue, hunger, desertion, and relentless raids by Cossacks.

Napoleon on the Niemen River.
The Beginning of the War.

Russian army in 1812, 
by Parhaiev In March the main Napoleon's forces were massed between Gdansk (Danzig) and Warsaw, along the banks of the Vistula River. "On 23 June 1812 a closed carriage drawn by 6 horses suddenly appeared in the middle of the bivouac of the 6th (Polish) Uhlan Regiment. The troopers were even more startled when it stopped and Napoleon, himself, climbed out. Spotting a major, Napoleon approached him, asking to see the regiment's commander. ... Napoleon asked the route to the Niemen River and the location of the most advanced Polish outposts. The next request was the most surprising. Napoleon requested Polish uniforms for himself and his staff. ... Napoleon did not wish to warn the Russians of the pending invasion. Napoleon and his staff quickly exchanged their uniforms with some very surprised Polish officers and headed for the border. ... Napoleon carefully examined the terrain. ...
At 10 PM General Morand [of Davout's I Corps] passed three companies of the 13th Legere across the Niemen in small boats so they could serve as a screen to protect General Eble's engineers as they raised the pontoon bridges. At the sight of this crossing, a group of Polish uhlans, probably belonging to the 6th Uhlans, spurred their mounts froward into the river, hoping to seize the honor of being the first to be on Russian soil. Unfortunately, the current proved too swift and they were quickly swept downstream, engulfed by the river. As the men slipped beneath its waters they were clearly heard to cry, 'Vive l'Empereur !'
Meanwhile elements of the 13th Legere landed and began spreading across the far bank. They quickly encountered a company of Russian hussars. A Russian officer advanced and challenged the French skirmishers. They responded to this challenge with musketry." (Nafziger - "Napoleon's Invasion of Russia" pp 114-5, 1998) The war with Russia began.


In 1812 Napoleon put on weight,
and he developed a paunch.
Those close to him noted that
his eyes grew less piercing
and he spoke more slowly.
He also took longer to make decisions.

French Army and Commanders at Borodino.
130.000 men and 584 guns

The French call the Battle of Borodino, the Bataille de la Moskova. Borodino was an epic battle in an age of grand confrontation. It was one of the largest battles of the Napoleonic Wars, involving nearly 250,000 soldiers for both sides. Napoleon attended personally to every military detail. "His correspondence in these matters reveals a staggering degree of familiarity with every brigade, regiment and battalion, where they were stationed, where they were due to move to, who commanded them ... No detail was too insignificant for him. " (- Zamoyski "Moscow 1812" p 81) But he also put on weight, his neck thickened and he developed a paunch. Those close to him noted that his eyes grew less piercing and he spoke more slowly. He also took longer to make decisions. Napoleon's phenomenal powers of concentration diminished. Those used to his fits of fury were surprised to find him growing more pensive. His enemies noted that his victories were no longer as resounding as they had been.

At Borodino Napoleon had 84.500 infantry in 203 battalions, 21.500 cavalry in 230 squadrons and 16.000 gunners and engineers with 500-550 guns. Total of approx. 120.000 men. There were many nationalities in Napoleon's army. See diagram below.

Cavalry Regiments
Infantry Battalions
French - 43 (55 %)
Polish - 13
Bavarian - 6
Wirtembergian - 4
Italian - 4,
French - 144 (70 %)
Polish - 24
Westphalian - 16
Italian - 5
Croat, etc.

Davout and I Corps
"The Iron Marshal"

Davout Davout's corps was more trustworthy and exact in the performance of its duty than any other troop except Imperial Guard. His corps were often entrusted with the most difficult part of the work in hand. Napoleon had great confidence in Davout's abilities. Davout was a stern disciplinarian who exacted obedience from his troops. But also Davout was difficult to get on with and had no patience with those who tried to take easy ways out. Davout was nicknamed the Iron Marshal and became Napoleon's most effective and feared marshal.

Morand's 1st Infantry Division -----> attacked Raievski Redoubt
. . . 13th Light Regiment [5 btns. + 4 light guns]
. . . 17th Line Regiment [5 btns. + 4 light guns]
. . . 30th Line Regiment [5 btns. + 4 light guns]
. . . Artillery [8 foot and 6 horse guns]
Friant's 2nd Infantry Division -----> attacked Bagration Fleches
. . . 15th Light Regiment [5 btns. + 4 light guns]
. . . 33rd Line Regiment [5 btns. + 4 light guns]
. . . 48th Line Regiment [5 btns. + 4 light guns]
. . . Spanish Joseph Bonaparte Line Regiment [2 btns.]
. . . Artillery [8 foot and 6 horse guns]
Gerard's 3rd Infantry Division -----> attacked Raievski Redoubt and Borodino
. . . 7th Light Regiment [5 btns. + 4 light guns]
. . . 12th Line Regiment [5 btns. + 4 light guns]
. . . 21st Line Regiment [5 btns. + 4 light guns]
. . . 127th Line Regiment [2 btns. + 2 light guns] - served as escort of parks of I Corps, not participated in battle
. . . Artillery [8 foot and 6 horse guns]
Dessaix's 4th Infantry Division -----> attacked Bagration Fleches
. . . 85th Line Regiment [5 btns. + 4 light guns]
. . . 108th Line Regiment [5 btns. + 4 light guns]
. . . Hessen-Darmstadt Life Regiment [1 btn.] - served as escort of parks of I Corps, not participated in battle
. . . Artillery [8 foot and 6 horse guns]
Compans' 5th Infantry Division -----> attacked Bagration Fleches
. . . 25th Light Regiment [5 btns. + 4 light guns]
. . . 57th Line Regiment [5 btns. + 4 light guns] "The Terrible"
. . . 61st Line Regiment [5 btns. + 4 light guns]
. . . 111th Line Regiment [3 btns. + 0 light guns] *
. . . Artillery [8 foot and 6 horse guns]
Girardin's Light Cavalry Division
. . . 2nd Chasseur Regiment [4 sq.]
. . . Polish 9th Uhlan Regiment [4 sq.]
. . . 1st Chasseur Regiment [4 sq.]
. . . 3rd Chasseur Regiment [4 sq.]
Reserve Artillery of I Corps [16 foot guns]

* - the 61st Line Regiment had 5 btns. and 4 light guns but at Shevardino have suffered very heavy casualties and lost all guns. It was reformed from 5 to 3 battalions for the battle of Borodino.

Ney and III Corps
"The Bravest of the Brave"

Ney Marshal Ney was called Le Rougeaud ("the ruddy") and le Brave des Braves ("the bravest of the brave") . He is known for epitomizing the soldierly virtue of "leading from the front". Many historians consider Ney as one of the three bravest Napoleonic marshals (Lannes, Murat, Ney). Octave Levavasseur writes: "Nature had given Ney an iron body, a soul of fire. His build was athletic.... His physiognomy was reminiscent of the Nordic type. His voice resonant. He only had to give an order for you to feel brave. ... No matter how brave you were or wished to appear, if this man was near you in the midst of a fight you had to confess him your master. Even under grapeshot his laughter and pleasantries seemed to defy the death all around him. His recognized superiority made everyone obey his orders."
But Ney was an average tacticians and a hothead. Jomini wrote: "Ney's best qualities ... diminished in the same proportion that the extent of his command increased his responsibility." For example in 1813 he got command of 84.000 men and ruined one of Napoleon's best planned battles. His conduct in 1815 was erratic, to say the least and King Louis XVIII had him shot. (One of the more colorful legends of Ney that have grown up after the Marshal's untimely demise by firing squad was that Ney had managed to escape to the USA) At Borodino Ney complained bitterly about being made to 'take the bull by the horns'.

Ledru's 10th Infantry Division
. . . 24th Light Regiment [2 btns.]
. . . Portuguese 2nd Line Regiment [1 btn.]
. . . 46th Line Regiment [4 btns.]
. . . 72th Line Regiment [4 btns.]
. . . Artillery [8 foot and 6 horse guns]
Razout's 11th Infantry Division
. . . 4th Line Regiment [4 btns.]
. . . Portuguese 2nd Line Regiment [1 btn.]
. . . 18th Line Regiment [4 btns.] "The Brave"
. . . 93rd Line Regiment [4 btns.]
. . . Artillery [8 foot and 6 horse guns]
Marchand's 25th Infantry Division
. . . Wirtembergian Temporary Regiment [3 btns.]
. . . Wirtembergian Artillery [12 foot and 4 horse guns]
Beurmann's ? Light Cavalry Division
. . . 6th Lancer Regiment [3 sq.]
. . . 11th Hussar Regiment [4 sq.]
. . . Wirtembergian 4th Horse Jager Regiment [4 sq.]
. . . 4th Chasseur Regiment [4 sq.]
. . . Wirtembergian 1st Horse Jager Regiment [4 sq.]
. . . Wirtembergian 2nd Horse Jager Regiment [4 sq.] . . . Wirtembergian Artillery [6 horse guns]
Reserve Artillery of III Corps [8 foot guns, Wirtembergian 17 guns]

Eugene and IV Corps
Viceroy of Italy and Prince of Venice.

He was born in Paris and became the stepson and adopted child of Napoleon, following the execution of his father during the Reign of Terror. Eugene was honest, brave, loyal and generous man. In 1812 his IV Corps was known as Army of Italy.

Delzon's 13th Infantry Division
. . . 8th Light Regiment [2 btns. + 2 light guns]
. . . 84th Line Regiment [4 btns. + 2 light guns]
. . . Croat 1st Regiment [2 btns.]
. . . 92nd Line Regiment [4 btns. + 2 light guns]
. . . 106th Line Regiment [4 btns. + 2 light guns]
. . . Artillery [8 foot and 6 horse guns]
Broussier's 14th Infantry Division
. . . 18th Light Regiment [2 btns. + 2 light guns]
. . . 53rd Line Regiment [4 btns. + 2 light guns]
. . . Spanish Joseph Bonaparte Line Regiment [2 btns.]
. . . 9th Line Regiment [4 btns. + 2 light guns]
. . . 35th Line Regiment [4 btns. + 2 light guns]
. . . Artillery [8 foot and 6 horse guns]
Lechci's Italian Royal Guard
. . . Guard Velites Regiment [2 btns.]
. . . Guard Conscript Regiment [2 btns.]
. . . Guard Regiment [2 btns.]
. . . Guard Dragoon Regiment [2 sq.]
. . . King's Dragoon Regiment [4 sq.]
. . . Italian Guard Artillery [12 foot and 6 horse guns]
Ornano's Light Cavalry Division
. . . 9th Chasseur Regiment [3 sq.]
. . . 19th Chasseur Regiment [3 sq.]
. . . Italian 2nd Chasseur Regiment [4 sq.]
. . . Italian 3rd Chasseur Regiment [4 sq.]
Preissig's Bavarian Light Cavalry Division
. . . Bavarian 3rd Lighthorse Regiment [4 sq.]
. . . Bavarian 6th Lighthorse Regiment [4 sq.]
. . . Bavarian 4th Lighthorse Regiment [4 sq.]
. . . Bavarian 5th Lighthorse Regiment [4 sq.]
. . . Bavarian Artillery [6 horse guns]
Reserve Artillery of IV Corps [20 guns]

Murat and Reserve Cavalry
Idol of Napoleonic Cavalry

Murat Tall and handsome, an expert swordsman, delighted in amazing uniforms and fine horses. Weak-willed, vain, hot-tempered, naive, deceitful - but also generous, good-humored and merciful. Little tactical skill and no concept of strategy, never learned how to care for men and horses. In battle he was probably the bravest men in the world. The cavalrymen loved him for his bravery and leading charges from the front. Murat was very inspirational leader. At Borodino he commanded I, II, III and IV Cavalry Corps.

Bruyere's 1st Light Cavalry Division
. . . 7th Hussar Regiment [4 sq.]
. . . 9th Lancer Regiment [4 sq.]
. . . 8th Hussar Regiment [4 sq.]
. . . 16th Chasseur Regiment [4 sq.]
. . . Polish 6th Uhlan Regiment [4 sq.]
. . . Polish 8th Uhlan Regiment [4 sq.]
. . . Prussian 2nd Converged Hussar Regiment [4 sq.]
. . . Artillery [6 horse guns]
St.Germaine's 1st Heavy Cavalry Division
. . . part of 1st Lancer Regiment [1 sq.]
. . . 2nd Cuirassier Regiment [4 sq.]
. . . 3rd Cuirassier Regiment [4 sq.]
. . . 9th Cuirassier Regiment [4 sq.]
. . . Artillery [6 horse guns]
Valence's 5th Heavy Cavalry Division
. . . part of 5th Lancer Regiment [1 sq.]
. . . 6th Cuirassier Regiment [4 sq.]
. . . 11th Cuirassier Regiment [4 sq.]
. . . 12th Cuirassier Regiment [4 sq.]
. . . Artillery [12 horse guns]

Pajol's 2nd Light Cavalry Division
. . . 11th Chasseur Regiment [3 sq.]
. . . 12th Chasseur Regiment [3 sq.]
. . . 5th Chasseur Regiment [4 sq.]
. . . 9th Chasseur Regiment [4 sq.]
. . . Polish 10th Hussar Regiment [3 sq.]
. . . Wirtembergian 3rd Horse Jager Regiment [3 sq.]
. . . Prussian 1st Converged Uhlan Regiment [4 sq.]
Wathier's 2nd Heavy Cavalry Division
. . . part of 2nd Lancer Regiment [1 sq.]
. . . 5th Cuirassier Regiment [4 sq.]
. . . 8th Cuirassier Regiment [4 sq.]
. . . 10th Cuirassier Regiment [4 sq.]
. . . Artillery [24 horse guns]
Defrance's 4th Heavy Cavalry Division
. . . part of 4th Lancer Regiment [1 sq.]
. . . 1st Carabineir Regiment [4 sq.]
. . . 2nd Carabinier Regiment [4 sq.]
. . . 1st Cuirassier Regiment [4 sq.]

Chastel's 3rd Light Cavalry Division
. . . 6th Chasseur Regiment [3 sq.]
. . . 25th Chasseur Regiment [3 sq.]
. . . 8th Chasseur Regiment [4 sq.]
. . . 6th Hussar Regiment [3 sq.]
. . . Bavarian Lighthorse Regiment [4 sq.]
. . . Bavarian Lighthorse Regiment [4 sq.]
. . . Saxon Lighthorse Regiment [3 sq.]
. . . Artillery [3 horse guns]
Lahussaye's 6th Heavy Cavalry Division
. . . 7th Dragoon Regiment [3 sq.]
. . . 23rd Dragoon Regiment [3 sq.]
. . . 28th Dragoon Regiment [3 sq.]
. . . 30th Dragoon Regiment [3 sq.]
. . . Artillery [6 horse guns]

Rozniecki's 4th Light Cavalry Division
. . . Polish 3rd Uhlan Regiment [3 sq.]
. . . Polish 11th Uhlan Regiment [3 sq.]
. . . Polish 16th Uhlan Regiment [3 sq.]
. . . Polish Artillery [12 horse guns]
Lorge's 7th Heavy Cavalry Division
. . . Polish 14th Cuirassier Regiment [2 sq.]
. . . Saxon Garde du Corps Regiment [4 sq.]
. . . Saxon Zastrov Cuirassier Regiment [4 sq.]
. . . Westphalian 1st Cuirassier Regiment [4 sq.]
. . . Westphalian 2nd Cuirassier Regiment [4 sq.]
. . . Saxon & Westphalian Artillery [12 horse guns]

Other Troops
Poniatowski, Junot, and Bessieres

Poniatowski's V Corps (Poles): 18 battalions and 16 squadrons.
Junot's VIII Corps (Westphalians): 16 battalions and 12 squadrons
Bessieres' Imperial Guard: 24 battalions and 25 squadrons


When Kutuzov was appointed
the army was overjoyed.

Russian Army and Commanders at Borodino.
115.000-155.000 men and 600-650 guns

Kutuzov and his staff at redoubt 
before the battle of Borodino De Tolly's strategy of avoiding battle aroused grudges from most of the generals and soldiers. Therefore, when Kutuzov was appointed commander-in-chief and arrived to the army, he was greeted with delight. Within two weeks Kutuzov decided to give major battle on approaches to Moscow, at the village of Borodino. Kutuzov and his headquarters were on a hill near the village of Gorki, in the center of the Russian position.

  • Commander-in-Chief of Russian Army: GoI Prince Golenishchev-Kutuzov
  • Chief of Staff: GoC Baron Leontii Leontievich Bennigsen
  • Artillery Chief: GM Count Alexander Ivanovich Kutaisov
  • Engineer Chief: GM Peter Nikiforovich Ivashev
  • Duty Officer: Col. Kaisarov
  • Surgeon Gen.: Villiers
    At Borodino Kutuzov had 115.000 regulars, 9.500 Cossacks and 30.500 militia. Total of 155.000 men and 600 guns. Kutuzov anticipated the main French advance along the new Smolensk road. Kutuzov's forces were formed organizationally into two large armies:
    - De Tolly's 1st Western Army (see below)
    - Bagration's 2nd Western Army (see below)

    De Tolly and his First Western Army
    (82.500 men and 425 guns)

    Barclay de Tolly Barclay de Tolly comamnded the First Western Army. He was a German-speaking descendant of a Scottish family which had settled in Livonia in the 17th century. At Borodino he commanded with great valor and presence of mind. De Tolly's efforts to preserve the army even at the cost of abandoning Moscow turned public opinion against him. In 1813 de Tolly was appointed commander-in-chief of the Russian and Prussian forces. De Tolly took part in the invasion of France in 1814 and commanded the taking of Paris, receiving the baton of a field marshal in reward. At Borodino de Tolly's army had (120 battalions, 112 squadrons, Cossacks, artillery). They were organized into Right Wing, Left Wing and Reserves. Chief-of-Staff was GM Eermolov, Chief-of-Artillery: GM Kutaisov, Chief-of-Cavalry: GL Uvarov.

    [NOTE: On average the Russian infantry division had 4 jager and 8 infantry battalions and 12-36 guns. At Borodino some divisions had their jagers detached and posted in the woods or along the river. See map below.]

    II Infantry Corps: GL Baggovut
    . . . 4th Infantry Division
    . . . 17th Infantry Division
    IV Infantry Corps: GL Osterman-Tolstoy
    . . . 11th Infantry Division
    . . . 23rd Infantry Division
    I Cavalry Corps: GL Uvarov
    . . . Lifeguard Cavalry Brigade (4 dragoon & 4 uhlan sq.)
    . . . Lifeguard Light Cavalry Brigade (4 hussar & 4 Cossack sq.)
    . . . Light Cavalry Brigade (4 dragoon & 8 hussar sq.)
    . . . Artillery (12 horse guns)
    II Cavalry Corps: GM Korff
    . . . Dragoon Brigade (8 dragoon sq.)
    . . . Light Cavalry Brigade (8 uhlan & 8 hussar sq.)
    Cossacks Corps: GoC Platov
    . . . Cossacks Brigade (4 Cossack regiments)
    . . . Cossacks Brigade (2 Cossack regiments)
    . . . Cossacks Brigade (2 Cossack regiments)
    . . . Cossacks Brigade (2 Cossack regiments)
    . . . not formed in brigades (3 Cossack & 1 Bashkir regiments)
    . . . Cossack Artillery (12 Cossack guns)

    VI Infantry Corps: GL Kaptsevich *
    . . . 7th Infantry Division
    . . . 24th Infantry Division
    III Cavalry Corps: GM Kreutz **
    . . . Dragoon Brigade (8 dragoon sq.)
    . . . Dragoon Brigade (8 dragoon sq.)
    . . . Light Cavalry Brigade (16 hussar sq.)
    . . . Artillery (12 horse guns)

    V Infantry Corps: GL Lavrov
    . . . 1st 'Guard' Infantry Division
    . . . 1st Converged Grenadiers Division
    . . . 1st Cuirassier Division (20 cuirassier sq.)
    Reserve Artillery
    . . . five companies of horse artillery (total 60 guns)
    . . . three companies of light artillery (total 36 guns)
    . . . two companies of heavy artillery (total 24 guns)

    * - Dohturov was the official commander of this corps. During battle Dohturov commanded also the entire left wing, and then after Bagration was mortally wounded he took command of the Second Western Army. In this situation GL Kaptzevich led the VI Infantry Corps.
    ** - sources disagree on who commanded this corps, Kreutz, Korf or Pahlen.

    Bagration and his Second Western Army
    (41.000 men and 175 guns)

    Bagration Bagration commanded the Second Western Army. Everything about him seemed to evoke vigilance, self-reliance, and the grim business of war. Bagration was a master of rear-guard fighting, and was a tactically aggressive commander. In April 1799, Bagration captured Brescia in Italy, then defeated French general Serurier and forced Moreau to retreat to Marengo. At Trebia he commanded advance guard. In 1805 Bagration commanded advance guard of Kutuzov's army and then its rear guard. In 1806 and 1807 he was placed in the most dangerous situations, where everybody knew it would be necessary to fight against overwhelming odds.
    At Borodino Bagration's army had 56 battalions, 52 squadrons, Cossacks, artillery. Chief-of-Staff was Gen. Saint Priest, Chief-of-Cavalry: GL Golitsyn-V, Chief-of-Engineers: GM Furster, and Chief-of-Artillery: GM Lowenstern.

    III Infantry Corps: GL Tuchkov-I
    . . . 1st Grenadier Division
    . . . 3rd Infantry Division
    VII Infantry Corps: GL Raievski
    . . . 12th Infantry Division
    . . . 26th Infantry Division
    VIII Infantry Corps: GL Borosdin
    . . . 2nd Grenadier Division
    . . . 2nd Converged Grenadiers Division
    . . . 27th Infantry Division
    IV Cavalry Corps: GM Sievers
    . . . Dragoon Brigade (8 dragoon sq.)
    . . . Dragoon Brigade (8 dragoon sq.)
    . . . Light Cavalry Brigade (16 hussar sq.)
    . . . Artillery (12 horse guns)
    . . . 2nd Cuirassier Division (20 cuirassier sq.)
    Cossacks Corps: GM Karpov-II
    . . . not formed in brigades (8 Cossack regiments)
    Reserve Artillery
    . . . five companies of light artillery (total 60-4=56 guns)
    . . . two companies of heavy artillery (total 24 guns)

  • ~

    "Soldiers !
    This is the battle that you have
    looked forward to so much !
    ... let people say of you:
    "He was at that great battle fought
    under the walls of Moscow!"
    - Napoleon

    Deployment of Troops.
    "The Chessmen Are Set Up,
    the Game Will Begin Tomorrow !"
    - Napoleon

    Map of Battle of Borodino, 1812
    French & Allies - Russians

    Kutuzov ordered Bagration to defend the southern part of the front. Here were built several v-shaped field fortifications known as the 'Bagration Fleches'. The fourth earthwork was slightly to the north, by Semonovskaia village. The village of Semenovskaia being of totally wooden construction it had been dismantled and burned to provide a clear field of fire.

    North of Bagration Fleches was Raievski Redoubt (ext.link), also called Great Redoubt (or Death Redoubt). Tolstoy descrided it: "... on to the high knoll on which militiamen were at work excavating. This was the redoubt, as yet unnamed, afterwards called Raievski's redoubt, or the battery on the mound." and "The redoubt consisted of a mound, with trenches dug out on three sides of it. In the entrenchments stood ten cannons, firing through the gaps left in the earthworks. In a line with the redoubt on both sides stood cannons."

    In front of Bagration Fleches stood the Shevardino Redoubt. It was erected to provide early warning of French advance from that direction. During battle of Borodino here was Napoleon's headquarter.

    The Battlefield.
    The sun brightly lit up the enormous panorama which, rising like an amphitheater, extended before both armies. The Smolensk higway with two rows of birches on both sides passed through the village of Borodino where stood a white church. Below Borodino the highway crossed the Kolocha river by a bridge and, winding down and up, led to the village of Valuievo, where Napoleon was then stationed. The ground along the Kolocha river was broken. The rest of the battlefield was carpeted with meadows and small fields of rye. Only the southern part - around the village of Utitza - was wooded. Thousands of smoking campfires could be seen everywhere. In every direction were seen indefinite masses of infantry and the clatter of horses` hoofs was heard everywhere. In the sea of men and animals groups of birches shined in the sunshine, with their green and yellow foliage and white bark.

    Caulaincourt's Itineraire records that the Emperor that day rode three of his horses: Luzelberg, Emir and Courtois. "Napoleon was in the saddle by 3 am in the morning, and rode over to the Shevardino redoubt. The troops were already moving up to their positions, cheering as they passed their Emperor. 'It's the entusiasm of Austerlitz !' Napoleon observed to Rapp. By half past 5, all the units were in their designated positions, drawn up as if on parade. 'Never has there been a finer force than the French army had on that day' - recalled Colonel Seruzier ... The commanding officers of every unit then read out a proclamation penned by Napoleon the night before ... "Soldiers ! This is the battle that you have looked forward to so much ! Now victory depends on you: we need it. ... "
    Napoleon had taken up position on the rise at the back of the Shevardino redoubt, from where he could see the entire battlefield. Flize writes: "I moved a little closer to the Emperor who'd not ceased peering at the battlefield through his spyglass. He was wearing his grey uniform and spoke little. Sometime a cannonball came rolling towards his feet, but he merely stepped aside, as we did who were standing behind him." The Imperial Guard was drawn up alongside and behind him. He was brought a folding camp chair, which he turned back to front and sat astride, leaning his arms on its back. Behind him stood Berthier and Bessieres, and behind them a swarm of aides-de-camp and duty officers. Before him he could see a formidable sight." (Zamoyski - "Moscow 1812" pp 265-266)
    Lejeune writes: "The appearance of all these crack troops, beautiful to behold in their impatience to go into action and secure a victory, made a most imposing spectacle." Despite the devastating losses earlier in the war, French morale remained excellent. Indeed, the battle looked like an easy victory for Napoleon and his Guard being present. Napoleon spent the previous day on horseback inspecting the own troops, considering plans and giving commands to generals. At dawn the Emperor mounted and rode to the front line where he had a good view of the Russian positions. The Emperor reviewed the Russian positions and returned to his staff. He listened to a suggestion from Davout to outflank the Russian left wing but said it should not be done.
    Napoleon ordered to place all the 16 howitzers of the III and VIII Corps, on the flanks of the 40-gun battery that is to bombard the fleches. He also ordered Sorbier to be ready to advance with all the howitzers of the Guard`s artillery against either one or other of the fleches. On returning from a second inspection of the lines, Napoleon said "The chessmen are set up, the game will begin tomorrow!" In the night he anxiously asked whether the Russians had not withdrawn, and was told that the enemy`s campfires were still in the same place. Satisfied he webt to sleep.

    Kutuzov was in front of the village of Gorki, sitting on a folding chair brought by a Cossack. He could not see the battlefield from where he was, but his mere presence was enough. Officer Mitarevski wrote about Kutuzov: "It was as though some kind of power emanated from the venerable commander, inspiring all those around him."
    The center of Russian position was at Borodino village "where rows of fragrant new-mown hay lay by the riverside." To the left and right of that place stood enormous number of troops and cannons. On the right flank stood Barclay de Tolly's army and on the left was Bagration's army. (See map)
    Near the fleches was a road winding through a thick, low-growing birch woods. The woods and small ravines were occupied by jagers. In front of Bagration's flank was a knoll not occupied by the troops and Bennigsen (chief-of-staff) criticized it. The troops were hidden behind the knoll and Bennigsen on his own authority ordered them to deploy on the knoll without even mentioning the matter to Kutuzov ! Bennigsen didn't know that the troops were in a concealed position as an ambush, that they should not be seen and might be able to strike an approaching attackers unexpectedly.


    "At 6 AM, the French guns opened up, the Russians answered
    ... to those present, even those who had been in battle before,
    it seemed as though all hell had been let loose."
    - Zamoyski "Moscow 1812"

    The Battle.
    Shouts were heard through the firing,
    but for a while it was impossible to tell
    what was being done there.

    "Before dawn on 7 Sept the bands on the right flank began playing the reveillle to wake up the infantry, and it was gradually picked up all along the line. They pleyed the most rousing pieces. Music does a great deal to prepare the spirit for battle. ... As soon as it was light, a short imperial proclamation was read out to each battalion. Soon after, the cannon opened fire on the left flank ..." (Chlapowski, - p 116)
    French artillery at Borodino, 
picture by Roubaud "At 6 AM, the French guns opened up, the Russians answered, and as nearly a thousand cannon spewed out their charges, to those present, even those who had been in battle before, it seemed as though all hell had been let loose." (Zamoyski - "Moscow 1812" p 267) Soltyk, watching from a few paces behind Napoleon, has "never heard anything like it. At moments the uproar was so terrible it was more like broadsides discharged from warships than a land artillery engagement."
    It was quickly discovered the 102 guns Napoleon had ordered formed on the 6th were too far away from the Russians. The guns were limbered up and moved forward. The first shots had not yet ceased to reverberate before others rang out and yet more were heard mingling with and overtaking one another. The artillery fire quickly spread down the line to the I and III Corps and the Russian Second Western Army. It was without doubt the heaviest concentrated cannonade of the war so far. The gun smoke spread out over the whole space.

    The artillery barrage signalled the attack of infantry. In the center part of Davout's infantry (5th Division) moved against the fleches, on the northern flank part of Eugene's corps attacked Borodino.

    Northern Flank.
    (Eugene's Attack on Borodino Village)

    Part of Eugene's IV Corps advanced against the village of Borodino defended by Lifeguard Jager Regiment. The village consisted of little church (ext.link) and few wooden houses built along the road. Delzon's 13th Division advanced with elan, despite the musketballs hissing and whistling everywhere. They drove the Russians out of the village and pursued across the river. Delzon's men moved toward Gorki but were driven back to the Kolocha River. They could get no farther. Meanwhile the Russians destroyed the little wooden bridge by Borodino.
    Eugene ordered to bring more artillery and formed a large battery to fire on the Russians. He sent cavalry to the east, near the villages of Loginovo and Bezzubovo, to protect his flank. It was an open area although partially marshy.

    Southern Flank.
    (Poles and Westphalians in the Wood.)

    During cannonade and Davout's attack on the fleches, Poniatowski advanced along the road from Elnia to Utitza and through the large forest to turn the Russians' position. (Before battle Marshal Davout proposed an outflanking movement by his I Corps and Poniatowski's V Corps to roll up the Russian line but Napoleon agreed only on the V Corps).
    Between Poniatowski and Davout was a big gap and Napoleon sent Junot's VII Corps to protect Davout's flank. Jean-Andoche Junot (ext.link) had also to link up with Poniatowski.
    Junot's Westphalians entered the wood south of Bagration Fleches, attacked Russian jagers (three regiments) and pushed them to the south. Junot - at least temporarily - secured Davout's flank.


    The 57th Line Regiment nicknamed "The Terrible" for bravery
    advanced far ahead and took the westernmost earthwork
    but couldn't hold it and was thrown back
    by Russian grenadiers.

    Six Attacks on 'Bagration Fleches'
    Four Hours of Savage Fighting.

    Bagration's infantry at Borodino, 
picture by Roubaud The booming cannonade was growing more intense over the whole battlefield. Approx. 100 French cannons targeted Bagration Fleches, Raievski Redoubt and the village of Borodino. Soon 40 more guns were deployed against Bagration Fleches. The number of artillery pieces rapidly increased within next few hours. Parts of the battlefield were covered with thick gun smoke. Thick smoke drifted over the small wood in the center and the villages.

    Davout's First Attack on Fleches.
    (The French Captured One Fleche, Bagration Retook It.)

    In pink, French troops participating in the first two attacks on Bagration Fleches. MAP:
    in pink - French infantry battalions and cavalry regiments involved in the first attacks on wood and Fleches. Some battalions are already fighting in the wood and for Fleches, these are Compans' 5th Division of Davout's I Army Corps. Other battalions are still on initial positions but they soon will join Compans.
    in red - infantry battalions and cavalry regiments not participating in the first assault on the

    About half an hour after the initial cannon shots had been fired MdE Davout’s I Corps attacked the southern most of the Bagration Fleches. Compans' 5th Infantry Division and 30 guns moved against these earthworks. The infantry columns disappeared amid the smoke but their rapid musketry firing could still be heard. They moved through the wood, their voltigeurs brushed aside Russian skirmishers, and the entire division pushed along the southern edge of the wood. The trees gave some protection against artillery fire and musketry and the attackers got very close to the earthworks. (As we see Davout made some good use of terrain, in contrast Ney will attack head on, frontally.)
    Russian 24 cannons and musket fire shattered the advancing French infantry. The gun smoke spread out covering big part of the battlefield. Shouts were heard through the firing, but for a while it was impossible to tell what was being done there. GdD Compans was wounded, MdE Davout's horse was hit and threw to the ground. The Iron Marshal was stunned. The 57th Regiment "The Terrible" advanced far ahead and took the westernmost earthwork. One of the Frenchmen wrote: "A brave officer of that nation [Russia], seeing his men about to fall back, placed himself across the entrance to the redoubt and did everything he could to prevent them leaving it, but was shot through the body. Our men rushing forward with the bayonet, I ran towards this officer to protect him if he was still alive, but he died shortly after."
    The 57th couldn't hold the earthwork and was thrown back. Compans' division was in disorder, scattered around in the wood, bushes and folds of the ground. The wounded men staggered along or were lying with their heads thrown awkwardly back and their shakos off.
    Compans' battered 5th Division was replaced by Dessaix's 4th Division.

    Cavalry Charges.
    (Russian Hussars & Dragoons vs Wirtembergians)

    The Russians did not however obligingly sit and wait and launched their own attack against the French. The IV Cavalry Corps (16 dragoon, 8 uhlan and 8 hussar squadrons) led by GM Karl Gustav Sievers (ext.link) having ridden in the smoke past the infantry, which had been moved forward and was in action, attacked Compans' division. The Russian horsemen captured 12 guns and sabered the infantry.
    Taking advantage of the chaos caused by Sievers' cavalry, Vorontzov's division of converged grenadiers re-established themselves in the fleches. The Wirtembergian cavalry charged and recaptured the 12 lost guns. They also pushed Sievers' cavalry back but the fleches remained in Russian hands. Behind Davout's and Ney's infantry appeared immense mass of cavalry, Beurmann's and Bruyeres' light brigades and the entire I and IV Cavalry Corps.

    Second and Third Attack on Fleches.
    (The French Took The Fleches, Bagration Retook Them.)

    Artillery on both sides went beserk relentlessly punding the infantry. By now the French had deployed approx. 250 guns against Bagration Fleches. The Russians responded with 200 pieces. Bagration brought up 3rd and 27th Division, and the entire second line of Raievski's Corps. These forces deployed behind 2nd Converged Grenadiers Division that defended the earthworks. The elite 2nd Grenadier Division began moving behind the village of Semonovskaia.
    Around 9 am GdD Ledru's 10th Division (11 battalions) of Ney's III Corps attacked the fleches from the north. In the same time half of 4th Division attacked from the south. The two divisions disappeared as the others had done into the smoke of the battlefield. The fight went on for a while before Ledru's men drove off the converged grenadiers and captured the two or three fleches. (Bagration Fleches consisted of two big and one small earthwork). The French realized that there was a fourth earthwork, and not far away from the fleches.
    Bagration saw the converged grenadiers being pushed out the fleches and quickly decided the time was ripe for a strong counterattack. Masses of Russian infantry poured into the combat zone. These troops were: 3rd and 27th Division, half of Raievski's Corps, and 2nd Grenadier Division. They were supported by part of Sievers' cavalry and 2nd Cuirassier Division. Bagration also demanded from Kutuzov part of Imperial Guard.
    These forces pushed back Ledru's infantry.

    Cavalry Charges.
    (Russian Cuirassiers vs Wirtembergians, French & Poles.)

    Russian cavalry in reenactment 
of Borodino The Wirtembergian cavalry under Beurmann and some French light cavalry did all they could to protect Ledru's and Dessaix's divisions. They charged and brought to a halt the Russian infantry until part of 2nd Cuirassier Division (12 squadrons) led by GM Ilia Duka (ext.link) came forward and swept them away. The Russians captured 6 guns and sabered Desaix's infantry. The Wirtembergian and French cavalry fled with the cuirassiers (ext.link) hot on their heels. French artillery fired canister at the pursuers and 100 volunteers of Polish 6th Uhlan Regiment strucked them. Disordered by the pursuit, battered by artillery and charged by the uhlans, Duka's cuirassiers retreated as disordered mobs.

    Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Attack on Fleches.
    (King Murat was forced to run for life.)

    Over fields the balls of smoke were continually appearing and the sun's rays struck straight into Napoleon's face as, shading his eyes with his hand, he looked through a field glass at the Bagration Fleches. He saw smoke and men, sometimes his own and sometimes Russians, the smoke of the firing made it difficult to distinguish anything.
    Around 10 am Ledru's division again attacked and captured one fleche. A few minutes later disordered troops followed by groups of wounded men uttering cries came back from that direction. Russian 3rd Infantry Division and Sievers' two dragoon and two hussar regiments counterattacked and retook the earthwork.
    The flamboyant Marshal Murat took one Wirtembergian battalion of Marchand's 25th Division (of Ney's III Corps) and rushed against the southernmost fleche. Before they reached their target they were charged by Duka's cuirassiers and Murat was forced to run for life. The remainder of Marchand's weak division (2 Wirtembergian battalions) and Wirtembergian cavalry advanced to save their fellows.
    Because Ney's two divisions (Ledru's 10th and Marchand's 25th) made no progress, Napoleon ordered Friant's 2nd Infantry Division to support them. At 11 am Friant's men stormed into the earthworks amid savage fighting and heavy losses and captured them. It was the fifth attempt against Bagration Fleches and short lived. Bagration counter-attacked with 2nd Grenadier and 27th Infantry Division. Friant's men were thrown out of the fleches. The generals re-formed them and brought them back to the fire. The men ran forward over the killed comrades and abandoned weapons, stumbling, tripping up and shouting. At 11:30 am the earthworks were captured !

    The 4 hours of savage fighting against Davout's and Ney's infantry took a heavy toll on the Russians. Approx. 350 French guns inflicted horrible casualties on the defenders.
    (For comparison, at Waterloo Napoleon had 246 guns spread along the entire frontline. They divided their fire between Hougoumont, La Haye Sainte, Papelotte etc.
    At Borodino 200 guns, then 300 [!] pounded Bagration Fleches.)

    Bagration withdrew 3rd Infantry Division some distance to the rear. This unit was commanded by GL Petr Konovnitzyn (ext.link) one of the best divisional commanders. During the army maneuvers in May his 3rd Division was held up as a model for the army. Borosdin's VIII Infantry Corps (2nd Grenadier, 2nd Converged Grenadier and 27th Infantry Division) was decimated, to say the least ! (The 2nd Grenadier Division shrinked into a size of single regiment. The 2nd Converged Grenadier and 27th Infantry Division almost ceased to exist.) Murat thinking that the Russians were ready to crack, called for a massive cavalry charge.


    Despite heavy artillery fire the French infantry
    pressed forward, rolled over the redoubt's walls
    and a bloody bayonet battle ensued.

    Fight For the Raievski Redoubt.
    Raievski rallied his VII Infantry Corps and conterattacked.
    The French fled from the redoubt. Only a handful resisted
    for no more than 10 minutes.

    French and Russians are fighting in Raievski
Redoubt Raievski's VII Infantry Corps had been assigned to defend the Great Redoubt and the area to the south. His corps had two divisions (12th and 26th) each of 4 jager and 8 infantry battalions. Raievski occupied the ravine of Semenovskaia Stream and the wood with jagers formed in thick skirmish chain. The remaining battalions were formed in columns in two lines. When Bagration was wounded and the Fleches were captured, Raievski (ext.link) assumed his command and began to move to the village of Semenovskaia. He also took the battalion columns of second line. Soon however the French opened fire on his troops and the Redoubt and he decided it was too dangerous for him to leave his VIII Infantry Corps.
    Kapzevich's VI Infantry Corps stood on the other side of Raievski Redoubt. It had two divisions (7th and 24th) formed in battalion columns in two lines. The jagers were spread along the Kolocha River.
    Behind VI and VII Infantry Corps was deployed Kreut'z III Cavalry Corps.

    First Attack on Raievski Redoubt.

    French 1st & 2nd attack on Raievski Redoubt Before 10 am the French artillery opened fire and their skirmishers advanced against the Russians. Raievski's jagers threw back the French reconnaissance in force. At 11:00 am Morand's 1st Division (15 battalions) advanced directly on the redoubt. Despite heavy artillery fire the French pressed forward, rolled over the redoubt's walls and a bloody bayonet battle ensued. Captain Francois writes: "A great number of Frenchmen fall into the wolfpits pell-mell with Russians who're in them already." The attackers swept through and beyond the redoubt, chasing the Russian gunners and some infantry. Three jager regiments (previously deployed as skirmishers) were fleeing. Chief-of-Staff of Russian army, General Ermolov, was nearby and saw the French already in the redoubt. He immediately brought three horse batteries and 2 infantry battalions and counterattacked. Two other battalions attacked from the right. In the fight was killed General Kutaisov, chief of artillery. Raievski rallied his VII Infantry Corps and moved against the enemy in and around the redoubt. The French fled. Only a handful resisted for no more than 10 minutes. Kreutz's III Cavalry Corps advanced against the Italians, stopping their progress. The redoubt was back in Russian hands. Ermolov took a handful of crosses of the Order of St. George and threw them into the redoubt to encourage the defenders.

    Second Attack on Raievski Redoubt.
    (Russian Counterattack)

    The French attacked again, their infantry marched toward the redoubt while cavalry (Grouchy's III Cavalry Corps) trotted around the fortification and against infantry. In this moment 17th Division (of Baggovout's II Infantry Corps from the extreme northern flank) was moving south, toward the hard pressed Bagration Fleches. The 17th Division halted by the redoubt and was resting when Grouchy's cavalry strucked them (see map above). Kreutz's cavalry advanced to assist the infantry and Ermolov turned his guns in the redoubt to fire on Grouchy's cavalrymen to his rear. Finally Grouchy's men left but the 17th Division was mauled.

    Captain Francois of 30th Line Regiment described one of the attacks on Raievski Redoubt: "Nothing could stop us... We hopped over the roundshots as it bounded through the grass. Whole files and half-platoons fell, leaving great gaps. General Bonamy ... made us halt in a hail of canister shot in order to rally us, and we then went forward at the pas de charge" A line of Russian troops tried to halt us, but we delivered a regimental volley at 30 paces and walked over them. We then hurled ourselves at the redoubt and climbed in by the embrasureds; I myself got in through an embrasure just after its cannon had fired. The Russian gunners tried to beat us back with ramrods and levering spikes. We fought hand-to-hand with them, and they were formidable adversaries."


    The Saxon Garde du Corps broke one square
    formed by Russian infantry and pursued the enemy.
    Then they encountered Sievers' dragoons
    and furiously threw them back.
    The Saxons pressed beyond the village of
    Semonovskaia where stood Russian Imperial Guard.

    Saxons' Charge.
    The Saxon, Polish, French and Westphalian Cuirassiers
    attacked Russian center.

    Saxon Garde du Corps, picture 
by Mark Churms As the fight for Bagration Fleches and Raievski Redoubt raged, Napoleon ordered Murat to take Latour-Maubourg's IV Cavalry Corps and strike the enemy center. The French artillery opened tremendous fire and Friant's 2nd Division, flanked Murat's cavalry advanced directly on Semenovskaia and Russian center.
    Meanwhile Bagration regrouped his forces. The remains of the 2nd Grenadier (formed in two squares) and 2nd Converged Grenadier Division were in and around the village of Semenovskaia. Behind stood 6 Guard battalions formed in squares and the splendid 1st Cuirassier Division. The Russian artillery was still strong, numerous batteries were deployed in front of the infantry. There was however a lot of damaged artillery equipment and injured and killed horses.

    Latour-Maubourg's IV Cavalry Corps moved in two columns:

  • right: Lorge's 7th Heavy Cavalry Division (8 Saxon, 8 Westphalian and 2 Polish cuirassier sq.)
  • left: Rozniecki's 4th Light Cavalry Division (9 Polish uhlan sq.)
    The Russian grenadiers and artillery were presented with the amazing sight of several thousands of cavalrymen coming towards them. The infantry formed squares to create fortresses out of which musket fire could be poured to disrupt or halt the cavalry charge. The square was the classic formation to resist cavalry as horses could not be enticed to charge into tightly formed troops bristling with bayonets. Between and in front of the squares Bagration had deployed batteries of artillery. Faced with the enormous force of cavalry massing but 1 km away, the infantry could do nothing but stay in their squares and wait.
    The cavalry was so numerous that the squadrons quickly extended out to the left, threatening not just the infantry deployed around the village but Russian line all the way to the Raievski Redoubt. Lorge's heavies slowly moved forward, crossed the stream, and attacked the Russians. In front rode the Saxon Garde du Corps (ext.link), one of the best heavy cavalry regiments in Europe. They were followed by another Saxon unit, the Zastrow cuirassiers (ext.link), and then by two regments of Westphalian cuirassiers (ext.link). The Garde du Corps broke one square and pursued the fleeing Russians. They also encountered Sievers' dragoons, threw them back and pressed beyond the village where they met 6 Guard battalions. For an instant the generals had the impression that the Russians had disappeared under the countless whirling sabers. But the Guard withstood the charge before the Saxons were struck frontally by 1st Cuirassier Division. In the same time Sievers' hussar regiment attacked their flank.
    Russian cuirassiers at Borodino 2006, by Korfilm The Saxons suffered heavy losses (they left armor in Germany) and were driven back. The attackers were beaten back by dogged infantry defence and by a magnificent cavalry charge. Dozens of panic-stricken horses, without riders, came neighing and circling the troops. Much credit for the timely cavalry attack belong to commander of cavalry of the Second Western Army, GL Prince Golitsyn-V (ext.link) The rest of Lorge's division attacked infantry squares but without much effect. They were more successful against the blown 1st Cuirassier Division.
    Meanwhile Rozniecki's Rozniecki's 4th Light Cavalry Division had become involved in battle around the Raievski Redoubt, where they captured 8 guns.
    A lull developed as the cavalry withdrew.

    (Saxony had three regiments of cuirassiers, all held Guard status. At Borodino were two: Garde du Corps and Zastrow. Uniform of Garde du Corps: brass helmet with fur turban and crest, white plume, black leather peak edged brass. Brass chin scales. Tunic was pale buff, faced blue, with orange piping around the top of the collar, down the front of the tunic, and on the turnbacks. Officers: gold epaulettes, gold belts and gold ciphers and edging to shabraque. Trumpeters: red tunic, white breeches and silver trumpet with gold cords. - Howard Giles) In 1812 the Saxon Garde du Corps and Zastrow had much smaller, though sturdy horses, either black or very dark-brown, supplied by dealers as Mecklenburgers.

  • ~

    Poniatowski put infantry in the center,
    cavalry on the sides, and himself in front.
    He led them up the hill,
    the Russians withdrew.

    Poniatowski on the Flank.
    "Dauntless heroes; Murat, Ney, Poniatowski,
    - it is to you the glory is due! "
    - Napoleon after Borodino

    Polish flag On the extreme southern flank Prince Poniatowski's weak corps had advanced to their positions early in the morning. Poniatowski's infantry marched in columns screened by skirmishers. It was about 8:00 a.m. when the Poles encountered Tuchkov's III Infantry Corps. Tuchkov had been weakened when the 3rd Division was detached north to aid the defenders of Bagration Fleches. He had only the superb 1st Grenadier Division (12 battalions). This unit was commanded by GM Pavel Aleksandrovich Prince Stroganov and consisted some of the best grenadier regiments in the Russian army: Tzar's, Pavlovsk, Graf Arakcheiev's, S.Petersbourg and Ekaterinoslav. (Each regiment had 2 battalions) In front of the grenadiers was wooded area. It was defended by long skirmish chain formed by 12 jager battalions. In the rear, behind the grenadiers were several thousands of militia armed with pikes. Tuchkov's flank was protected with Karpov's Cossacks and his front with strong artillery. On Utitza Mound stood artillery.

    The Poles pushed the Russian skirmishers out of the wood and at 10:30 a.m. Poniatowski moved his artillery forward. More than 20 guns deployed and directed their fire on the Russians in and around Utitza. Kutusov learned about Poniatowski's advance against his flank and ordered Baggovout's II Infantry Corps to march south to assist Tuchkov. Baggovout left 12 jager battalions along the Kolocha River and with the remaining forces moved south.

    The rapid advance of the Poles forced the Russian artillery to withdraw. Then the Poles were met by the Russians and a bloody fight began. Tuchkov's grenadiers and Baggovout's infantrymen pushed the attackers back as far as the village of Utitza.
    Pavlovsk Grenadier Tuchkov who led the famous Pavlovsk Grenadier Regiment and was killed. Baggovout assumed command of the entire southern flank. Polish artillery engaged in a 3 hour duel with the Russians while Poniatowski prepared a two column attack against the mound. The southern column was a diversion only. It attracted Baggovout's attention and he counterattacked with his II Infantry Corps, 1st Grenadier Division and Karpov's Cossacks. The massive force halted the column. But this action exposed Baggovout's northern flank and here was Poniatowski's second column. This maneuver obliged the successful Baggovout to fall back and abandon his positions to Poniatowski. Now Poniatowski's infantry attacked the Utitza Mound while cavalry deployed to the south, facing Karpov's Cossacks.

    (The Pavlovsk Grenadier Regeiment wore old-fashioned mitre-caps until the end of Napoleonic Wars. In 1807 for their gallant fight at Friedland Tzar Alexander ordered that, alone of the infantry, this regiment should henceforth retain its mitres "in the state in which they left the battlefield as visible mark of its bravery and Our grace.")


    A small breech in the Russian line had finally been formed.
    Murat and Ney sent an officer to Napoleon asking for
    fresh troops to make the final breakthrough.

    "Soldiers, about face !
    Let's go and get killed !"
    - Murat to Friant's infantrymen

    Friant's and Tolstoy's men facing each other The cavalry withdrew and Friant brought forward half of his 2nd Division into the ruins of Semenovskaia. The entire village was almost captured before 4 grenadier battalions arrived and put on impressive resistance. Friant's battalions were very discouraged and some wanted to withdraw but Murat arrived with these words "Soldiers, about face ! Let's go and get killed !" Friant's men crushed the grenadiers and swept over the smoking ruins of the village.
    A small breech in the Russian battleline had finally been formed. Murat and Ney sent an officer to Napoleon asking for fresh troops to make the final breakthrough. Napoleon initially consented, but he then recanted. GdD Lobau and the Young Guard, disappointed at Napoleon's failure to commit them, slowly edged forward on the pretext of correcting the alignment of their ranks. But Napoleon saw them and brought it to a halt. General Belliard arrived from Murat with a second request for the release of the Young Guard. His request was denied.
    Meanwhile Bagration was mortally wounded (ext.link) and Konovnitzin, and then Dohturov took command of his army. The troops were shaken and moved back few hundred paces, with some decimated units withdrawing into the woods in the rear. The casualties were horrific, for example the 6 grenadier battalions that had defended Bagration Fleches were reduced to a total of about 300 men ! The 6 Guard battalions retired in perfect order. Barclay de Tolly moved Tolstoy's IV Infantry Corps from the northern flank into the gap in front of the Semonovskaia village.

    Napoleon was unsure of the situation on the smoke-obscured battlefield. "He sat very still most of the time, showing little emotion, even when listening to the reports of panting officers who, without dismounting, retailed news from the front line. He would dismiss them without a word, and then go back to surveying the battlefield through his telescope. He had a glass of punch at 10 am, but brusquely refused all offers of food. He seemed very absorbed ..." (Zamoyski - "Moscow 1812" pp 271-272)

    Artillery Fire Created Havoc.
    Instead of infantry Napoleon sent Sorbier's 60 pieces of Guard artillery to support Friant. The Guard artillery was very eager to join the fight, they quickly swiftly forward, deployed and began an enfilading fire on Tolstoy's IV Infantry Corps maneuvering in front of Friant and covering the gap in Russian line. Despite very accurate fire, the Russians marched as if they were on parade ground, filling the gaps the cannonballs and canister ripped in their ranks. They halted and deployed, all under heavy fire. Their suffering was incredible ! Neither Ney nor any of his officers had ever before seen such horrors or so many slain in such a small area. (After the battle their positions could still be seen, clearly marked by the dead whose bodies were still arranged in formation.) The cannons were being fired continually one after another with a deafening roar, enveloping the whole neighborhood in powder smoke. But Tolstoy's greencoats redressed their ranks, threw out chests and raised their chins. Their officers called: -Tighten the ranks! Friant's men stayed where they were, in the village.
    The plain between Friant and Tolstoy was a hideous charnel house, strewn with human remains, and corpses of horses whose stiffened limbs reach up towards the heavens.
    But not only the Russians suffered from artillery fire. Latour-Maubourg's IV Cavalry Corps, those magnificent Saxon, Westphalian and Polish heavy cavalry were used to hold the line. They were put under fire of the Russian artillery and were badly mauled as they stood in the open. There was not much infantry around, the foot soldiers took cover in the ravines, woods, folds of terrain etc. Russian cannonballs also reached Montbrun's II Cavalry Corps. The horse carabiniers with their copper armor attracted the attention of enemy gunners. GdD Montbrun was killed and replaced by Gen. August de Caulaincourt.


    "... Platov and Uvarov bypassed the left flank of Napoleon's army
    and launched a sudden attack in the Valuievo-Bezzubovo area.
    The panic among the transport and troops of the left flank
    temporarily distracted Napoleon from further attacks
    against the 2nd Western Army for about 2 hours....
    During the time thus won, Kutusoff rearranged his forces
    and strengthened the center and the left wing."
    - Alexander Mikaberidze (Georgia)

    Cossacks' Raid.
    Word the much feared Cossacks were to the rear
    had spread terror as far south as Napoleon's
    headquarters in Shevardino Redoubt.

    Cossacks About 11 am Platov's Cossacks and Uvarov's I Cavalry Corps moved against French northern flank and rear. These forces moved across the Kolocha River and soon encountered the enemy. Uvarov was halted at Bezzubovo by strong French 84th Line Infantry Regiment (4 battalions) and half of Ornano's cavalry (Bavarians and Italians). The Russian Lifeguard Hussar Regiment attacked the 84th three times without artillery preparation or success. The Russian guns finally arrived and forced the French to withdraw behind the river. It allowed the remainder of Uvarov's cavalry to drive back the Bavarian and Italian cavalry.

    Platov's Cossacks moved without major problems, they crossed the Voina River ("War River") further north than Uvarov, and made raid on French rear. Uvarov's cavalry was halted by Delzon's 13th Division.
    Word the much feared Cossacks were to the rear had spread terror as far south as Napoleon's headquarters in Shevardino Redoubt. Napoleon sent Grouchy's III Cavalry Corps to deal with Uvarov and Platov. It allowed the Italian and Bavarian cavalry to regain composure. The Emperor also sent the infantry of Vistula Legion into Eugene's rear. The Young Guard had made ready to receive the enemy. All these forces halted the rampaging Cossacks and threw them back. The diversion however had paralyzed the French left and part of the center from about noon to 2:00 p.m. Napoleon also shifted his position north, remaining there until about 3:00 p.m.

    Kutuzov probably expected more, Platov and Uvarov were the only top commanders which were not submitted by Kutuzov to awards for Borodino. Britten-Austin writes "Ouvarov was severely reprimanded for making such a mess of his diversion. It was only years afterwards that he and his fellow Russian generals realized that he had saved Russia from the disaster which would have overtaken its army had Napoleon, in his usual manner, thrown in the Imperial Guard through the hole that, between 11 and 1 o'clock, had been blasted in the Russian centre. Only the Prussians' timely arrival at Waterloo would save Wellington from exactly the same catastrophe." (Britten-Austin - "1812 The March on Moscow" p 381)


    The Redoubt was captured by cavalry,
    a feat never repeated !

    Grand Cavalry Charge
    and the Capture of Death Redoubt.

    The Saxons and some French cuirassiers
    had the honour of being the first in the redoubt.

    French cuirassiers in captured Raievski Redoubt, picture by Roubaud Approx. 170 French guns directed its fire on the redoubt and troosp positioned near it. The earth forming the Raievski Redoubt was blown back into the trench, filling it in. At 2:00 p.m. Eugene resumed his attack on Raievski Redoubt. Three infantry and six cavalry divisions were involved in the final attack on this forification and troops defending it. (To give you an idea of the size of the cavalry force involved, at Waterloo similar amount of cavalry attacked Wellington's entire German-British-Netherland army.) Chlapowski of Old Guard Lancers writes: "The redoubt had been so ruined by cannon fire that the Emperor rightly jidged cavalry capable of taking it. So we watched the beautiful sight of our cuirassier charge."
    General Caulaincourt, with his eyes aflame with the ardor of battle, rode to the front of the cuirassiers and shouted: "Follow me, weep not for him [Montbrun], but come and avenge his death." In reply to Murat's order to enter that redoubt right through the Russian line, he said, "You shall soon see me there, dead or alive." The trumpets sounded the charge, and putting himself at the head of this iron-clad cavalry, he dashed forward.

      The redoubt was attacked from the front and right by:
    • Broussiere's 14th Division (16 battalions) of Eugene's IV Corps
    • Gerard's 3rd Division (15 battalions) of Davout's I Corps
    • Morand's 1st Division (15 battalions) of Davout's I Corps
    • Chastel's 3rd Light Cavalry Division (24 squadrons) of Grouchy's III Cavalry Corps
    • Lahussaye's 6th Heavy Cavalry Division (12 squadrons) of Grouchy's III Cavalry Corps
      and from the left by:
    • Rozniecki's 4th Light Cavalry Division (9 squadrons) of Latour-Maubourg's IV Cavalry Corps
    • Lorge's 7th Heavy Cavalry Division (18 squadrons) of Latour-Maubourg's IV Cavalry Corps
    • Wathier's 2nd Heavy Cavalry Division (12 squadrons) of Montbrun's II Cavalry Corps
    • Defrance's 4th Heavy Cavalry Division (12 squadrons) of Montbrun's II Cavalry Corps

    Barclay de Tolly had deployed Tolstoy's IV Infantry Corps (8-12 battalions) to the left of the redoubt with its left wing pulled back (facing Friant's division in Semonovskaia village). Behind Tolstoy's troops was placed Raievski's battered VII Infantry Corps (8-12 battalions) and 6 Guard battalions. De Tolly began forming third line as a reserve with II & III Cavalry Corps and 8 Guard squadrons. (Korf's II Cavalry Corps hadn't arrived by the time the French final assault began, and III Cavalry Corps had majority of squadrons engaged around Bagration Fleches.)

    The Capture of Death Redoubt.
    Final Assault on Raievski Redoubt The cavalrymen pressed on with sabers drawn. Wathier's 2nd Cuirassier Division arrived at the redoubt first, and as they were about to enter its rear they were greeted by a heavy volley from the infantry inside. General Caulaincourt was killed. Wathier's cuirassiers were repulsed and Lorge's Saxon, Westphalian and Polish heavies and Rozniecki's 4th Light Cavalry Division moved to fill the gap. The cavalrymen were met by Russian musketry at 60 paces. The fire brought them to a short halt before they resumed their advance. The Saxons drew out to the left and poured up and over the redoubt's walls, while the French and Polish cuirassiers forced their way (ext.link) through the rear and embrasures of the breastwork.
    A bloody fight ensued in which all discipline and organization disappeared. The French infantry came into the redoubt too. Despite the fury and incredible chaos of the battle, the Russians succeeded in withdrawing 6 of the guns from the redoubt and one was thrown into the ditch. The remaining cannons were found dismounted in the redoubt. The Raievski Redoubt was captured by cavalry, a feat never repeated ! The achievement of Saxon heavy cavalry was belittled by Napoleon's comment "I only see blue cuirassiers". (French cuirassiers wore dark blue, the Saxons wore white uniforms). The French cuirassiers also participated in the capture of this fortification. The victory had, however, been dearly bought, for General Auguste-Jean-Gabriel de Caulaincourt had been killed at the gorge of the redoubt, as he led the charge. (He was buried in the redoubt he had so nobly won.) Colonel Griois watched the cavalry attack: "It would be difficult to convey our feelings as watched this brilliant feat of arms, perhaps without equal in the military annals of nations ... cavalry which we saw leaping over ditches and scrambling up ramparts under a hail of canister shot, and a roar of joy resounded on all sides as they became masters of the redoubt." Meerheimb writes: "Inside the redoubt, horsemen and foot soldiers, gripped by a frenzy of slaughter, were butchering each other without any semblance of order..."
    The 2nd Cuirassier Regiment is one of the units which, by-passing the redoubt to its right, have galloped towards a line of Russian guns, supported only 60 or 80 metres away by a line of Russian cuirassiers and dragoons. The cannons are spewing a rolling fire of grape and caseshot at the French. Thirion writes: "Rarely, I declare, have I found myself in so hot a spot. Immobile in front of the Russian guns, we see them loading the projectiles they're going to fire at us ... Happily, they aim too high. ... Finally a Westphalian division puts itself behind us. Separated from the Russians by our two ranks of horses, it imagines itself under cover. But when we, by moving off by platoons to the right, open up a gateway for them to move ahead of us between each platoon, these poor Westphalians, partly recruits, surprised to find themselves so close to thundering guns and to see us making to move off, begin shouting: 'Wir bleiben nicht hier !' [we're not staying here !], and try to follow our withdrawal, which obliges us to retrace our footsteps to support, or rather comfort, this infantry, at whose heels our horses were marching."

    Large Cavalry Battle.
    French carabiniers at Borodino, by Rocco Once the redoubt was captured, Eugene began to mass cavalry behind it.
    De Tolly ordered 24th Division to retake the redoubt but 2 squadrons of Polish cuirassiers attacked and drove back the Russians. The French and German cavalry repeatedly attacked 7th Division of Kapzevich's VI Infantry Corps but without success and had to fall back all along their front. Murat brought up Defrance's 4th Heavy Cavalry Division and finally the giant French carabiniers (8 squadrons) broke two squares and sabered the gunners of Guard horse battery. Thier victory was however very short-lived as Russian 8 Guard squadrons (4 sq. of Guard Cavalry Regiment and 4 sq. of Lifeguard Horse Regiment) counter-charged and retook the battery. The Russian Guard furiously charged and drove the French carabiniers and the Saxons back.
    Korf's II Cavalry Corps arrived and attacked Wathier's and Defrance's cuirassiers and carabiniers but without success. The French iron-clads threw them back. After this combat a large cavalry battle ensued around Raievski Redoubt. The squadrons of French, German, Polish and Italian cavalry intermingled with the squadrons of Russian II, III and IV Cavalry Corps. Dust rose obscuring all vision. Small groups of cavalry pulled into and out of the melee to reorganize and charge back into the fray. All control of the fighting passed from the hands of the officers into the small battle groups.


    'The approaches, the ditches and the Raievski Redoubt itself
    had disappeared under a mound of dead and dying,
    of an average depth of 6 to 8 men, heaped one upon the other."
    - H. Brandt of the Vistula Legion

    The End of Battle.
    After the battle Colonel Toll asked the name of a "regiment."
    The answer came that it was the "2nd Division !"

    "The Raievski Redoubt presented a gruesome sight. 'The redoubt and the area around it offered an aspect which exceeded the worst horrors one could ever dream off,' according to an officer of the Vistula Legion, which had come up in support of the attacking force. 'The approaches, the ditches and the earthwork itself had disappeared under a mound of dead and dying, of an average depth of 6 to 8 men, heaped one upon the other." (Zamoyski - "Moscow 1812" p 281)
    General de Tolly was on horseback, erect, unmoved by all confusion among the hundreds of retreating and well-nigh worn out soldiers. He sent officer to Kutusov to inform him of the dramatic situation on the battlefield. De Tolly asked the officer to be sure to get any orders in writing, fearing Kutusov might otherwise give instructions he would later deny having issued, in an effort to blame de Tolly for any failure that might result.
    Russian officer, reenactment of Borodino, photo by Korfilm Kutusov ordered de Tolly to move the army about 1,000 paces to the rear and assume a new position. Kapzevich's VI Infantry Corps moved between the villages of Gorki and Semenovskaia; Tolstoy's IV Infantry Corps occupied the area in front of Bagration Fleches. More to the south stood 6 Guard battalions. Baggovout's II Infantry Corps fell back from Utitza to the Old Smolensk Road, where it was joined by Tuchkov's III Infantry Corps. The I, II, III and IV Cavalry Corps stood behind infantry. All these troops were exhausted. In worst shape was the infantry. Raievski's VII Infantry Corps was down to 700 men !
    The only Russian troops still in good shape were: Lavrov's V Infantry Corps (the remaining 12 Guard battalions), Platov's Cossack Corps, 1st Cuirassier Division, and 8-12 jager battalions that were detached to defend the Kolocha River along the northern flank. These 15.000-20.000 troops had either not taken part in the battle, or if they did it was on small scale.
    Kutusov sent a report to Tsar Alexander informing him about great victory. It caused a lot of joy in Moscow. But on the following morning Kutusov decided to retreat, he explained his action to the Tzar as necessary for regrouping and reforming his troops after such intense, day long battle. The next day the Russians actually returned several troops to the battlefield. At daybreak, de Tolly, seeing the French had abandoned the Raievski Redoubt, sent several battalions and a battery, to reoccupy the fortification. Zamoyski wrote: "Although the Russian front line had been withdrawn that evening some 2 km back from its positions in the morning, the French did not follow it, and as soon as night fell Cossacks, singly or in groups, ranged over the battlefield in search of booty ... The French did not post forward pickets or fortify their line, as, having beaten and pushed back the Russians, they felt no need to do so. They just camped where they were. For obvious reasons, nobody bedded down in the charnel house of the Raievski Redoubt, and this permitted a small party of Russian troops to 'reoccupy it briefly." (Zamoyski - "Moscow 1812" p 285)
    Meanwhile the Russian baggages, ammunition wagons and artillery had slowly moved down the road to Mozhaisk. They were followed by the exhausted infantry. Some cavalry however stayed behind, ready to fend off any pursuit.

    Napoleon retained some 20,000-30.000 fresh troops (Imperial Guard, the Vistula Legion and I Cavalry Corps) but the remaining forces were exhausted physically and mentally. The French spent the day after the battle tending wounded and resting. Napoleon was in a state of extreme depression. Napoleon and his marshals were amazed at the stubborness of the Russians and feared the prospect of meeting them again. On Septemner 8th Murat began pursuit but soon was stopped by the Russian cavalry near Mozhaisk.

    Casualties at Borodino.
    The battlefield was covered with blood, with horses and men lying singly or in heaps. Dumonceau wrote: "Passing behind the Grand Redoubt we saw its broad interior sloping sharply down towards us, all encumbered with corpses and dead horses jumbled up with overturned cannon, cuirasses, helmets and all sorts of scattered wreckage in an indescribable confusion and disorder." It was not until the end of battle that many of the bodies could be recovered from No Man's Land having laid there for several hours. Neither Napoleon nor any of his generals had ever before seen such horrors or so many slain in such a small area. Chandler writes: "The French had lost an estimated 33,000 casualties; the Russians all of 44,000. It had been a desperate day, and the result was inconclusive." (Chandler - "Dictionary of the Napoleonic Wars" p 67)
    There were probably at least 70,000-85,000 killed and wounded.
    - Kutuzov's losses: 40.000-45.000 killed and wounded, including 23 generals.
    - Napoleon's losses: 30.000-40.000 killed and wounded, including 36 generals.
    Inspector of Reviews Deniee, totting up the losses, finds among the casualties no fewer than 14 generals of division, 33 generals of brigade, 37 colonels and 86 ADCs.
    "Next year the peasants would have to bury a total of 58,521 corpses and the carcasses of 35,478 horses." (Britten-Austin - "1812 The March on Moscow" p 383) So there were at least 58,000 killed and lethaly wounded who died on the battlefield. How many were wounded but died later we can only speculate. There were also thousands of those who were wounded but survived. Surgeon Roos writes: "The numbers of wounded turning up were enormous." (Britten-Austin - "1812 The March on Moscow" p 283) Labaume inspected the battlefield and saw "mounds of wounded, and the little spaces where there weren't any were covered with debris of arms, lances, helmets or cuirasses, or by cannonballs as numerous as hailstones after a violent storm."
    The battle was a bloody meat grinder, devoid of the subtle strokes so common in Napoleon's earlier victories in Italy, at Austerlitz, Jena and Friedland. Later, during his exile, the deposed French Emperor stated that out of the 50 battles he had fought, it was at Borodino that "The greatest valour was displayed and the least success gained."

    March on Moscow.
    During the next weeks Kutuzov needed to get Napoleon off his tail, and he could only do that by distracting him with something else. "In the only brilliant decision he made during the whole campaign, Kutuzov resolved to sacrifice Moscow in order to save his army. 'Napoleon is like a torrent which we are still too weak to stem' he explained to Toll. 'Moscow is the sponge which will suck him in.' He therefore fell back on Moscow." (Zamoyski - "Moscow 1812" p 289)
    The Polish 10th Hussar Regiment was the first Napoleonic unit to enter Mocow in 1812. They were followed by Prussian uhlans, Wirtembergian chasseurs and Pajol's French hussars and chasseurs. The French entered Moscow in good marching order but the city itself was deserted and there was hardly anyone in the streets. The gates and shops were all closed.
    Moscow was in Napoleon's hands but Tzar Alexander refused to negotiate a truce.

    "Soldiers !

    The second Polish War has begun.
    The first was brought to an end at Friedland and at Tilsit.
    Let us then go forward! We will cross the Niemen and carry war
    into her territory. The second Polish War will be as glorious
    for French Arms as the first. But the peace which we shall make
    will guarantee and will put forward an end to the baleful influence
    which Russia has exercised for 50 years on the affairs of Europe."

    - Napoléon's Bulletin to La Grande Armée,
    Wednesday, 24th June 1812

    Sources and Links.

    Britten-Austin - "1812: The March on Moscow"
    Zamoyski - "Moscow 1812"
    George Nafziger - "Napoleon's Invasion of Russia, 1812"
    Marian Kukiel - "1812"
    Karl von Clausewitz - "1812"
    Leo Tolstoy - "War and Peace"
    Chlapowski - "Memoirs of a Polish Lancer" Translated by Tim Simmons
    Napier - "History of the War in the Peninsula 1807-1814" Vol I-V
    The Battle of Borodino, 1812.
    Detailed Russian order of battle, Borodino.
    Kutuzov on postal stamp.
    Fight at Borodino - chess.
    Exquisite Russian chess set - Borodino.
    Museum Borodino.
    Reenactment of Borodino , 2003.
    Diorama of Battle of Borodino (Museum).
    Diorama of Battle of Borodino (Francis Long, UK)
    Photos from a wargame ' Borodino' held in the late 1980's. (hundreds of 15mm figures)
    "... we played a game of Napoleons Battles. The scenario was Borodino 1812..."
    Museum-Panorama of Battle of Borodino.
    The huge panorama (115 m x 15 m) "The Battle of Borodino" was created in 1912 by Franz Roubaut and presents the height of battle. Admission: $ 0.7
    Pictures from Panorama of Battle of Borodino.

    The French Arrmy ~ The Russian Army

    Napoleon, His Army and Enemies