The military events of the Patriotic War of 1812 took place on the territory of Russia between it 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, the policy of France 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 informatively about the hostilities you will learn from this article.
History of war
Owing to the defeat of the Russian army in the Battle of Friedland in 1807, Alexander I concluded the peace of Tilsit 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 has become a disgrace and humiliation - so considered the Russian nobility. But the Russian government decided to use the Tilzitsky world for their own purposes to accumulate forces and prepare for a war with Bonaparte.
According to 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. The Napoleonic army, after numerous annexations, came substantially closer to the Russian border.
The causes of the Patriotic War of 1812 on the part of Russia are primarily economic. The conditions of the Peace of Tilsit dealt a significant blow to the finances of the empire. For a good example, let us cite a number of figures: until 1807, Russian merchants and landowners exported 2.2 million quarters of bread for sale, and after the contract only 600 thousand. Such a reduction led to a drop in the value of this product. At the same time, the export of gold to France in exchange for all sorts of luxuries. These and other events have led to the depreciation of money.
The territorial causes of the Patriotic War of 1812 are somewhat confused because of the desire of Napoleon 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 to Poland at that time. The new state wanted to connect all the territories of the Commonwealth. To accomplish this, it was necessary to separate part of the lands that once belonged to Poland from Russia.
Three years later, Bonaparte seizes 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, talks began to appear about the signs of a coming and imminent war between the two empires.
The main causes of the Patriotic War of 1812 for France are an obstacle to international trade, as a result of which the state of the country's economy deteriorated markedly. In fact, the main and only enemy of Napoleon was the United Kingdom. The United Kingdom captured the colonies of countries such as India, America and, again, France. Considering that England literally reigned at sea, the only weapon against it would be the continental blockade.
The causes of the Patriotic War of 1812 also lie in the fact that, on the one hand, Russia did not want to sever trade relations with Great Britain, and on the other, it was necessary to fulfill the conditions of the Tilsit world in favor of France. Being in such a dual situation, Bonaparte saw only one way out - the military.
As for the French emperor, he was not a hereditary monarch. In order to prove his legitimacy in possession of the crown, he made an offer to his sister Alexander I, which he was immediately denied. The second attempt to enter into a family union with fourteen-year-old Princess Anna, who later became Queen of the Netherlands, was also unsuccessful. In 1810, Bonaparte finally marries Mary of Austria. This marriage gave Napoleon reliable protection of the rear in the event of a second war with the Russians.
The double refusal of Alexander I and Bonaparte's marriage to the princess of Austria led to a crisis of trust between the two empires. This fact served as the first reason due to which the Patriotic War of 1812 took place. Russia, by the way, Napoleon herself pushed the conflict with her further ambiguous actions.
Shortly before the start of the first battle, Bonaparte told the Warsaw ambassador Dominique Dufour de Pradt that, allegedly, in five years he would rule the world, but all that was left to do was to “crush” Russia. Alexander I, constantly fearing the restoration of Poland, pulled together several divisions to the border of the Duchy of Warsaw, which in fact was the second reason for which the Patriotic War of 1812 began. Briefly, this can be stated as follows: the French emperor perceived such behavior of the Russian ruler 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 encirclement in Belarus and Lithuania. Russian troops were able to repel the onslaught of the French in the Petersburg direction. The Smolensk operation is considered the second stage of the war, and the third is a march on Moscow. The fourth stage is the Kaluga campaign. Its essence was in the attempts of the French troops to break through in this direction back from Moscow. On the fifth, ending the war, the period came the ousting of the Napoleonic army from the territory of Russia.
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. Due to recruitment at the start of the war, the number increased to the level of 597 thousand soldiers.
The emperor appealed to the people with a call for voluntary mobilization for the protection and defense of the Fatherland. Everyone who wanted to join the so-called people's militia, regardless of the type of activity and class.
Battle of borodino
The largest 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 August 24 to August 26). In fact, this event marked the beginning of the rout of the army of Bonaparte.
In the battle, 135 thousand French came together with the 120-thousand army of Alexander I. 44 thousand were lost by the Russian army, Napoleon lost 58 thousand people. In the course of the battle, the army under the command of Bonaparte managed to capture the positions of the Russians, but at the end of the hostilities the French had to withdraw to the previously occupied lines. Thus, it is considered that Russia won this battle. The next day, Commander-in-Chief M. I. Kutuzov ordered a retreat because of heavy human losses and the presence of Napoleon’s reserve troops, rushing to help the French.
In 1839, the reconstruction of the events of the Battle of Borodino, which was carried out by Nicholas I, was created for the first time. 150 thousand soldiers turned out to be on the Borodino field. The centenary anniversary was celebrated no less richly. A small number of chronicles remained in the film archive, as Nicholas II went around the line of soldiers who participated in the reconstruction.
The battles of the Patriotic War of 1812 lasted from June 24 to December 26 (in a new style). And ended with the complete destruction of the Great Army of Bonaparte, which consisted of soldiers of Prussia and Austria. On December 21, according to official Hans Jacob von Auerswald, only a small part of the French soldiers returned, and they were in terrible condition. 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 guns. Historian Modest Bogdanovich estimated the loss of the Russian army at 210 thousand militiamen and soldiers. In 1813, the War of the Sixth Coalition begins, in which European states fought against the plans of Napoleon and his allies. In October of the same year, Bonaparte was defeated in a battle near Leipzig, and in April of the following year he abdicated the French crown.
The reasons for the failure of Napoleon’s plans were as follows:
• The military role of Kutuzov and the political will of Alexander I played an important role;
• a large number of patriots among ordinary people and nobility, who donated their material resources to 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.
The 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 well-deserved victory. Without the dedication of the people and the wisdom of the generals, Emperor Alexander I would have lost this battle.
Among those who fought are such names as M. I. Golenishchev-Kutuzov, S. Volkonsky, M. B. Barclay de Tolly, D. Golitsyn, D. S. Dokhturov, I. S. Dorokhov, P. Konovnitsyn, D. P Neverovsky, D.V. Davydov, P.I. Bagration, M.I. Platov, A.I. Kutaisov, A.P. Ermolov, N.N. Raevsky, P.H. Wittgenstein and others.
But the main Russian anti-aggressor was the main fighter against Napoleon’s aggression. Victory in the Patriotic War of 1812 belongs to a mobilized population voluntarily, which withstood all the unprecedented war. Many award documents testify to the heroism of soldiers on a massive scale. More than four dozen officers were personally rewarded by the Kutuzov Order of St. George.
Human losses in France and Russia
The data below was published by the historian S. Shvedov for 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 loss.
On average, one can confidently say that the number of war victims on the part of Russia has reached 300 thousand, most of which (175 thousand) were the mobilized part of the population. There are many factors that led to this outcome of events:
• rapid exhaustion of people due to movement over long distances;
• adverse 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 took on a more serious form. The number of Frenchmen killed is much more than the Russians. At the beginning of the war, Napoleon’s army entered the territory of the empire numbered 480 thousand 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 name
The course of the Patriotic War of 1812 lasted 7 months. From the first day of the battles, it acquired a movement of national liberation from the aggression of Napoleon. The nation-wide current was the main reason for the victory of the Russian army over the French.
This war has become a real test of the solidarity of the Russian people. All estates, regardless of state rank, financial and property status, came to the defense of their homeland. This is where the name comes from. Anyway, all the people who participated in the battles are the real heroes of the Patriotic War of 1812.
Interesting and useful facts.
● French soldiers never cooked or eaten porridge, as the Russians do. Their field kitchen has other traditions.
● In Russia, there is a lyceum that bears the name of Ataman of the Great Patriotic War, Matvey Platov.
● On December 12, 1812, in honor of the victory over Bonaparte, Alexander I proclaimed the forgiveness of those who helped the French army.
● M. Barclay de Tolly in 1812 created the first military intelligence service in Russia.