Military events of the Patriotic War of 1812 occurred on the territory of Russia between her and France. The reason was Alexander I's refusal to support the continental blockade, which Napoleon wanted to use as the main weapon against Britain. In addition, France's policy towards the states of Europe did not take into account the interests of the Russian Empire. And as a result - the Patriotic War of 1812 began. Briefly, but informative about the military actions you will learn from this article.
Background of the war
Due to the defeat of the Russian army in the Friedland battle in 1807, Alexander I concludes the Tilsit peace with Napoleon Bonaparte. By signing the treaty, the head of Russia was obliged to join the continental blockade of the United Kingdom, which, in fact, contradicted the political and economic interests of the empire. This world became a shame and humiliation - so the Russian nobility believed. But the Russian government made a decision to use the Tilsit world for its own purposes for the accumulation of forces and preparations for a war with Bonaparte.
Following the results of the Erfurt Congress, the empire took Finland and a number of other territories, and France, in turn, was ready to seize the whole of Europe. After the numerous annexations, the Napoleonic army approached the Russian border substantially.
The reasons for the Patriotic War of 1812 on the part of Russia are, first of all, economic. The conditions of the Peace of Tilsit dealt a significant blow to the finances of the empire. For an illustrative example, let us cite a number of figures: until 1807, Russian merchants and landowners exported 2.2 million quarters of grain for sale, and after the contract - only 600,000. This reduction led to a drop in the value of this commodity. At the same time, the export of gold to France in exchange for all kinds of luxury goods. These and other events led to the depreciation of money.
The territorial causes of the Patriotic War of 1812 are somewhat confusing because of Napoleon's desire to conquer the whole world. 1807 went down in history as the time of the creation of the Grand Duchy of Warsaw from the lands that belonged at that time to Poland. The newly-formed state wished to unite all the territories of the Commonwealth. To fulfill the plan, it was necessary to separate some of the lands that once belonged to Poland from Russia.
Three years later, Bonaparte seized the possession of the Duke of Oldenburg, who was a relative of Alexander I. The Russian emperor demanded the return of the land, which, of course, did not follow. After these conflicts, talk began about the signs of the imminent and inevitable war between the two empires.
The main causes of the Patriotic War of 1812 for France - this is an obstacle to international trade, resulting in the state of the country's economy has deteriorated noticeably. In fact, the main and only enemy of Napoleon was Britain. The United Kingdom seized colonies of countries such as India, America and, again, France. Considering that England literally reigned at sea, the only weapon against it would be a continental blockade.
The reasons for the Patriotic War of 1812 are also that, on the one hand, Russia did not want to break off trade relations with Great Britain, and on the other hand it was necessary to fulfill the conditions of the Peace of Tilsit in favor of France. Caught in such a dual situation, Bonaparte saw only one way out - the military one.
As for the French emperor, he was not a hereditary monarch. In order to prove his legitimacy in the possession of the crown, he made an offer to the sister of Alexander I, which he was immediately denied. The second attempt to enter into a family union with the fourteen-year-old princess Anna, who later became Queen of the Netherlands, also failed. In 1810, Bonaparte finally marries Maria of Austria. This marriage gave Napoleon reliable protection of the rear in case of a second war with the Russians.
Two-time rejection of Alexander I and the marriage of Bonaparte to the Princess of Austria led to a crisis of confidence between the two empires. This fact served as the first reason, as a result of which the Patriotic War of 1812 took place. Russia, by the way, itself pushed Napoleon to the conflict by its further ambiguous actions.
Shortly before the start of the first battle, Bonaparte told the Warsaw Ambassador Dominique Dufour de Pradt that he would rule the world in five years, but that only "crushed" Russia. Alexander I, constantly fearing the restoration of Poland, pulled several divisions to the border of the Warsaw duchy, which, in fact, was the second reason, because of which the Patriotic War of 1812 began. Briefly, it can be formulated as follows: this behavior of the Russian ruler was perceived by the French emperor as a threat to Poland and France.
Further development of the conflict
The first stage was the Belarusian-Lithuanian operation, covering June-July 1812. At that time, Russia managed to protect itself from the encirclement in Belarus and Lithuania. Russian troops were able to repel the onslaught of the French on the St. Petersburg direction. The Smolensk operation is considered the second stage of the war, and the third one is the march to Moscow. The fourth stage is the Kaluga campaign. Its essence consisted in the attempts of the French troops to break through in this direction back from Moscow. At the fifth, finishing the war, the repression of the Napoleonic army from the territory of Russia fell.
24 June at six in the morning the vanguard of the troops of Napoleon crossed the Neman river, reaching the city of Kovno (Lithuania, Kaunas modern). Before the invasion of Russia, on the border has focused a considerable group of the French army numbering 300 thousand people.
As of January 1, 1801 the army of Alexander I numbered 446 thousand people. As a result of recruitment kits at the beginning of the war, the number increased to 597 thousand soldiers.
The emperor appealed to the people with a call for voluntary mobilization to protect and defend the Fatherland. In the so-called people's militia was able to enter everyone who wants, regardless of the type of activity and class.
Battle of Borodino
The biggest battle took place on August 26 near the village of Borodino. More and more researchers are inclined to believe that the battle took place within 3 days (from 24 to 26 August). In fact, this event marked the beginning of the defeat of Bonaparte's army.
In the battle, 135 thousand Frenchmen came together with 120 thousand troops of Alexander I. 44 thousand lost the Russian army, Napoleon lost 58 thousand people. During the battle, the army under the command of Bonaparte managed to seize the positions of the Russians, but after the end of hostilities the French had to withdraw to the previously occupied lines. Thus, it is commonly believed that Russia won this battle. The next day, the commander-in-chief M. I. Kutuzov ordered the retreat due to large human losses and the presence of Napoleon's reserve troops hurrying to help the French.
In 1839, for the first time, the reconstruction of the events of the Battle of Borodino was created, which was carried out by Nicholas I. There were 150,000 military men on the field of Borodino. The centenary was celebrated no less richly. In the film archive, a small number of chronicles were preserved, as Nicholas II bypassed the formation of soldiers who participated in the reconstruction.
The battles of the Patriotic War of 1812 lasted from June 24 to December 26 (according to a new style). And ended with the complete destruction of the Great Army of Bonaparte, which included the soldiers of Prussia and Austria. December 21, according to the official Hans Yakov von Auerswald, only a small part of the French soldiers returned back, and they were in a terrible state. A little later, some of them died from multiple diseases and wounds already in their homeland.
The results of the Patriotic War of 1812 cost Napoleon 580 thousand people and about 1,200 artillery pieces. The historian Modest Bogdanovich estimated the losses of the Russian army in 210 thousand militia and soldiers. In 1813, the Sixth Coalition War begins, in which European states fought against the plans of Napoleon and his allies. In October of the same year, Bonaparte was defeated in the battle of Leipzig, and in April of the following year - renounced the French crown.
Defeat of France
The reasons for the failure of Napoleon's plans were as follows:
• An important role was played by the military endurance of Kutuzov and the political will of Alexander I;
• a large number of patriots among the common people and the nobility who sacrificed their material resources for the maintenance of the Russian army and their lives for the sake of victory;
• persistent and persistent guerrilla war, in which even women took part.
Heroes of the Patriotic War of 1812 did everything possible to prevent the French from conquering the Russian land, thanks to which they won a deserved victory. Without the dedication of the people and the wisdom of the generals, Emperor Alexander I would have lost this battle.
Among the warriors there are such names as MI Golenishchev-Kutuzov, S. Volkonsky, MB Barclay de Tolly, D. Golitsyn, DS Dohturov, IS Dorokhov, P. Konovnitsyn, D.P. NEVEROVSKY, DV Davydov, PI Bagration, MI Platov, AI Kutaisov, AP Ermolov, NN Raevsky, P. Kh. Wittgenstein, and others.
But the main fighter against the aggression of Napoleon was the ordinary Russian people. Victory in the Patriotic War of 1812 belongs to a voluntarily mobilized population that has withstood all the hardships of a war unprecedented so far. A lot of award documents testify to the mass heroism of soldiers. More than four dozen officers were personally rewarded with Kutuzov's orders of St. George.
Human losses of France and Russia
The data given below was published by the historian S. Shvedov to the 175th anniversary of the end of the battle. The history of the Patriotic War of 1812, written by various researchers of the theater of military operations, has significant differences in the question of human losses.
On average, we can confidently say that the number of victims of the war by Russia reached the level of 300 thousand, most of which (175 thousand) was the mobilized part of the population. There are many factors that led to this outcome:
• rapid exhaustion of people due to long distance travel;
• unfavorable climatic conditions;
• acute need for more water, food and warm clothing;
• diseases and epidemics.
As for France, for her the results of the Patriotic War of 1812 acquired a more serious form. The number of killed French is much greater than that of Russians. At the beginning of the war, the army of Napoleon, which entered the territory of the empire, numbered 480,000 soldiers. At the end of the war Bonaparte withdrew from Russia only 20 thousand survivors, leaving about 150 thousand prisoners and 850 guns.
About the title
The course of the Patriotic War of 1812 lasted 7 months. From the first day of the battles, she acquired a national liberation movement from the aggression of Napoleon. The nationwide current became the main reason for the victory of the Russian army over the French army.
This war was a real test of the unity of the Russian people. All estates, regardless of state rank, material and property status, have begun to defend their Fatherland. It was from here that this name came about. Anyway, all the people who took part in the battles are real heroes of the Patriotic War of 1812.
Interesting and useful facts
● French soldiers never cooked and did not eat porridge, as Russians do. Their field kitchen has other traditions.
● In Russia, there is a lyceum, which bears the name of the Patriarch ataman Matvey Platov.
● On December 12, 1812, in honor of the victory over Bonaparte, Alexander I proclaimed the forgiveness of those people who helped the French army.
● M. Barclay de Tolly in 1812 created the first in Russia military intelligence service.