On November 15 to 18, 1812, Napoleon, in retreat, gathered his remaining ragged forces in Russia and faced the Russians in a series of skirmishes that are collectively known as the Battle of Krasnoi. Because Napoleon was able to preserve these forces in retreat, he had the nucleus of an army to build upon and to carry him through the rest of the war. Marshal Ney‘s resistance to the fierce Russian attack earned him the name “Bravest of the Brave.” The fact that the Russian general, Kutusov, did not totally destroy the French army by continuing to pursue and engage them enraged Tsar Alexander I.
Battle of Krasnoi resulted in French losses numbering as many as 13,000 killed and wounded and up to 26,000 taken prisoner. These numbers paled in comparison to the nearly half a million French soldiers killed or captured in the whole Russian campaign.
Half a million.
Military experts credit Napoleon’s Russian campaign as one of the most lethal in history and as a turning point in the Napoleonic war. After this decimation of the French army, Austria and Prussia broke their alliance with France and joined the UK and its allies, leading to the defeat of Napoleon and his exile to Elba.
Almost 130 years later, in 1941, Hitler also invaded Russia in a campaign that resulted in even more horrific losses and failed as well. The Russians lost 27 million soldiers and civilians; the Germans lost over 3 million soldiers.
So…now that I’ve cheered you up with stories of devastation, how is your Monday going for you?