Borodino - The Start of the Battle

Borodino - The Start of the Battle

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Borodino - The Start of the Battle

This map shows the position of the French and Russian infantry corps at the start of the Battle of Borodino. At this point the Russians have very strong forces on their right wing, but the French never attacked that far north. Raevski, Borizdin and Tuchkov thus found themselves facing the brunt of the French attack and the Russians were forced to move troops left as the battle went on.

Russian battleship Borodino

Borodino (Russian: Бородино ) was the lead ship of her class of five pre-dreadnought battleships built for the Imperial Russian Navy in the first decade of the twentieth century. Completed after the beginning of the Russo-Japanese War in 1904, Borodino was assigned to the Second Pacific Squadron that was sent to the Far East a few months after her completion to break the Japanese blockade of Port Arthur. The Japanese captured the port while the squadron was in transit and their destination was changed to Vladivostok. The ship was sunk during the Battle of Tsushima in May 1905 due to explosions set off by a Japanese shell hitting a magazine. There was only a single survivor from her crew of 855 officers and enlisted men.

  • 20 Belleville boilers
  • 16,300 ihp (12,155 kW)
  • 2 × twin 12 in (305 mm) guns
  • 6 × twin 6 in (152 mm) guns
  • 20 × single 75 mm (3 in) guns
  • 20 × single 47 mm (1.9 in) guns
  • 4 × 15 in (381 mm) torpedo tubes

The Russian Army Survived

Napoleon’s military strategy had always been heavily reliant upon the knock-out blow. By facing an enemy on the field of battle, he aimed to destroy their armies in a single decisive strike.

At Borodino, this did not happen.

The French had been heavily mauled by the end of the battle, and severe losses had left the army licking its wounds. There were not enough cavalry remaining to achieve an effective pursuit and destroy the retreating Russians.

Instead of fleeing with a broken army, the Russians assembled another 90,000 soldiers. They could fight on.

Talk:Battle of Borodino/Archive 3

It is unclear for me why my edit was reverted. The Aftermath section states:

"While Napoleon won the battle of Borodino, his victory ultimately cost him his army, as it allowed the French emperor to believe that the campaign was winnable, exhausting his forces as he pressed still further into Russia in his attempts to defeat the Russian army."

"A Pyrrhic victory (English pronunciation: /ˈpɪrɪk/ ) is a victory with devastating cost to the victor it carries the implication that another such will ultimately cause defeat."

In addition, for decades Russian and Soviet historiography presented the outcome as a Russian strategic victory.(Barry Hollingsworth. The Napoleonic Invasion of Russia and Recent Soviet Historical Writing. The Journal of Modern History, Vol. 38, No. 1 (Mar., 1966), pp. 38-52) Although such a claim was obviously a gross exaggeration, it is impossible to make such a claim based on nothing. Interestingly, this opinion is shared by some western scholars ("Some [battles], like Marengo and Borodino, were actually near defeats in which Napoleon displayed little of his accustomed tactical subtlety." ( A. M. Devine. Demythologizing the Battle of the Granicus. Phoenix, Vol. 40, No. 3 (Autumn, 1986), pp. 265-278))

In connection to that, the word "Pyrrhic" seems to be quite appropriate. Taking into account that the decision to withdraw was taken after the battle, "indecisive" can also be used as a result, although "pyrrhic victory" is more adequate. I'll re-introduce "pyrrhic" is no arguments will be be presented in close future.--Paul Siebert (talk) 13:28, 11 May 2010 (UTC)

Please don't. Your change was reverted because this was a French Victory with about 1/2 of the Russian army destroyed and the only the fact that Napoleon didn't press the battle forward is the only reason the Russian army continued to exist that day. The French Army was about 95,000 strong on the day of the battle and remained about 95,000 strong up to the retreat. We get into nationalist feelings here where we have had all sorts of attempts to make this a draw or a Russian victory. The truth of the matter is and will forever remain, that the entire enterprise was doomed to failure from almost minute one. Had there been no Borodino, I still doubt that there would have been any change in outcome whatsoever. The battle was fought because there was a demand for it not because it was needed. We don't need any more playing about with the outcomes box.Tirronan (talk) 15:03, 11 May 2010 (UTC) This was definitely not a draw. The fact that Napoleon won is unquestionable. The dispute is about the word "pyrrhic". With regards to 1/2 of Russian army (which, btw is an exaggeration, because 120000/2=60000, not 45000. In actuality, only 1/3 of the army was lost), please, keep in mind that 1/4 of French army also had been destroyed, and, taking into account that it was much more difficult to obtain reinforcements for Napoleon than for Kutuzov, the outcome for the French was more severe. One way or the another, what you write is just your considerations whereas I provided the sources.
I am still waiting for reasonable arguments why the victory was not pyrrhic.--Paul Siebert (talk) 15:13, 11 May 2010 (UTC) "Pyrrhic" victory generally means victory where losses are intolerably high, it would be appropriate if it had forced Napoleon to start retreating soon, but causes of his retreat were elsewhere. Probably it would had went same way if Russians had decided not to give a battle before Moscow at all. I would call it "tactical victory", as it didn't change strategic situation either way. Its phyrric only if you apply standard, that every battle that doesn't end with complete destruction of hostile army, is automatically a failure, which could be somewhat justified compared to many other Napoleon's battles, but I dont think we can use this reasoning here.--Staberinde (talk) 16:24, 11 May 2010 (UTC) Re: ""Pyrrhic" victory generally means victory where losses are intolerably high, it would be appropriate if it had forced Napoleon to start retreating soon. " Not necessarily. Pyrrhus of Epirus himself did not retreat after the Battle of Asculum (279 BC). Re: "Its phyrric only if you apply standard, that every battle that doesn't end with complete destruction of hostile army, is automatically a failure". Not necessarily. If you forced the opponent to retreat al low cost is definitely a victory even if his army is not destroyed. Re: " Probably it would had went same way if Russians had decided not to give a battle before Moscow at all." No. That would mean that Napoleon had a free hand in Russia. In that case he would be able to go to St.Petersburg after capture of Moscow, etc. It is quite incorrect that by stepping on the territory of Russia every invader becomes automatically doomed. Again, we have a battle when Napoleon lost 1/4 of his army and failed to destroy the army of his opponent. The battle demonstrated that the second similar battle with the same opponent (that got considerable reinforcement during the autumn and winter) would be a disaster (that eventually appeared to be correct). Consequently, the battle appeared to be even more pyrrhic than the eponymous Battle of Asculum was.--Paul Siebert (talk) 17:36, 11 May 2010 (UTC) Re: "No. That would mean that Napoleon had a free hand in Russia." Um, what? I don't really understand where would Russian army disappear enabling Napoleon to gain "free hand". No battle would logically mean no losses to either side giving strategical situation that was right before battle. I can't really see how removing 30-39k French and 40-45k Russians significantly changed Napoleon's chances to force Russia into peace before winter (which I would say were quite non-existent at that point).--Staberinde (talk) 18:12, 11 May 2010 (UTC) Firstly, you didn't address my major point, namely, that Borodino was even more pyrrhic for Napoleon than Asculum was for Pyrrhus: whereas the latter was still able to launch another offensive campaign in Sicily after Asculum, the battle of Borodino started a continuous chain of Napoleon's defeats ended with Waterloo. With regard to your last question, I cannot understan what is unclear for you: obviously the army, that had been already decisively beaten at Austerlitz, and that is constantly avoiding any decisive battle is equal to absence of any army. Without Borodino, nothing could prevent Napoleon from turning to St.Petersburg after capturing of Moscow, that would lead to deposition of Alexander. By contrast, the army that appeared to be capable not only to decimate, but, literally quadrimate the Grand Army (although at a very high cost), and that managed to survive after that (and to constantly get reinforcements), is quite a different thing. By doing that this army proved it was a force to be reckoned with, and that was a decisive factor that forced Napoleon to withdraw.--Paul Siebert (talk) 18:41, 11 May 2010 (UTC) None the less, this victory didn't stop the French army from continued operations, it was the nature of the operations and the operations of light cavalry, cossacks, and guerrilla warfare, as well as never having a handle on his logistics that spelled doom for the French, were you arguing that the Russians had a better grand strategic grasp now there you would be right. They lost about 140,000 men give or take before this battle started, they would retreat from Moscow with about 95,000. The important factor is that the Russian army continued to exist and that Napoleon didn't do the one thing that would have salvaged the situation. retreat. This need not go on there have been a lot of attempts to make this something other than what it is, a meaningless victory in a long drum roll of defeats that happened both before and after this battle. There was a French victory on the Berrisina (sp) as well, it didn't change much there either. For all the loss of life and the sturm and drang, this battle contributed some more losses to the French forces, but there were many weeks where this was only a middling loss to the French.Tirronan (talk) 01:55, 12 May 2010 (UTC) Re: "None the less, this victory didn't stop the French army from continued operations. " Asculum also didn't stop Pyrrhus from continuing his operations. Re: " There was a French victory on the Berrisina" Are you serious? If the battle of Berezina (where the only French success was that the part of the army managed to escape) was a French victory, then Borodino was the decisive Russian victory. Please, respect your opponent and provide serious arguments (and sources). Pyrrhic victory is a costly victory that makes the victor's position worse. That is exactly what happened at Borodino: Napoleon lost a quarter of his army and in exchange got an illusion of victory, the illusion that prevented him from immediate retreat (the only reasonable step, according to you). What other arguments are needed?--Paul Siebert (talk) 02:50, 12 May 2010 (UTC) Ok enough, I know trolling when I see it and I'm done with the conversation.Tirronan (talk) 08:01, 12 May 2010 (UTC)

Re:Firstly, you didn't address my major point, namely, that Borodino was even more pyrrhic for Napoleon than Asculum was for Pyrrhus: whereas the latter was still able to launch another offensive campaign in Sicily after Asculum, the battle of Borodino started a continuous chain of Napoleon's defeats ended with Waterloo. Actually that chain started then Napoleon entered Russia. And it wasn't continuous chain of defeats either, Napoleon actually won quite a few battles in 6th coalition war, although not enough to overcome superior numbers of coalition, especially after Austria joined it.
Re:With regard to your last question, I cannot understan what is unclear for you: obviously the army, that had been already decisively beaten at Austerlitz, and that is constantly avoiding any decisive battle is equal to absence of any army. Barclay de Tolly and practically whole Russian strategy(where Borodino was exception, not a rule) during Napoleon's invasion disagrees with you. Napoleon never decisively lost a major battle during invasion, still invasion was enormous military fiasco for him.
Re:Without Borodino, nothing could prevent Napoleon from turning to St.Petersburg after capturing of Moscow, that would lead to deposition of Alexander. Russian army, logistical nightmare of making another long march in middle of Russia, and approaching winter, are in my opinion far too solid factors for calling them "nothing". But its all logical conclusion and therefore original search of mine, so if you find reliable source backing claim that without Borodino Napoleon could had taken Petersburg and end the war, then I will support adding "phyrric victory".--Staberinde (talk) 16:03, 12 May 2010 (UTC)

  1. "As a result, Wellington believed, Borodino had only been a Pyrrhic victory, despite its having left the road to Moscow open to Napoleon" (Andrew RobertsNapoleon and Wellington: the Battle of Waterloo and the great commanders who fought it. Simon and Schuster, 2001 ISBN0743228324, 9780743228329, p. 254)
  2. "This assessment proved to be exactly right, and Borodino was to be one of the most Pyrrhic of victories for Bonaparte." (Peter Neville, David Woodroffe. A Traveller's History of Russia. A Traveller's History Series. Interlink Books, 2006 ISBN1566566452, 9781566566452, p. 125)
  3. "Involving more than a quarter of a million soldiers in total, the Battle of Borodino was a Pyrrhic victory for Napoleon—the largest and bloodiest battle. " (Martin W. Sandler, Dennis Reinhartz. Atlantic Ocean: The Illustrated History of the Ocean That Changed the World. Sterling Publishing Company, 2008 1402747241, 9781402747243, p. 249)
  4. "At Borodino, Napoleon won a pyrrhic victory and lost the Russian campaign." (Erik Durschmied. The weather factor: how nature has changed history. Arcade Publishing, 2001, 1559705582, 9781559705585, p. 114)
  5. "Borodino was certainly won by the French, but it was a Pyrrhic victory." (Theodore Ayrault Dodge. Napoleon a History of the Art of War: From the beginning of the Peninsular war to the end of the Russian campaign, with a detailed account of the Napoleonic wars. Volume 3 of Napoleon a History of the Art of War, Great captains Houghton, Mifflin and company, 1907, p. 583)
  6. "On September 7, with their commander shaking from fever and urinary pain, the French won another pyrrhic victory at Borodino, outside of Moscow. " (David Avrom Bell. The first total war: Napoleon's Europe and the birth of warfare as we know it. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2007, ISBN

0618349650, 9780618349654, p. 295.)

  1. "It was a Pyrrhic victory for Napoleon. He had lost many irreplaceable senior officers - fourteen leutenant generals and thirty-three major generals. Among wounded were Ney and Davout." (Alistair Horne. How Far from Austerlitz?: Napoleon 1805-1815. Macmillan, 1998. 0312187246, 9780312187248, p. 316)
  • Retreat of the Russian Army
  • Strategically indecisive

Paul Siebert, your quote from Andrew Roberts, page 254 is inexact. Roberts states that Wellington wrote that he thought Borodino was a Pyrrhic victory it makes a world of a difference from what you are stating. As for Soviet authors, they are compromised as soon as you pronounce the word Soviet. Want a Russian point of view? Then quote a non-Soviet Russian scholar who has done some real research on the matter and whose favorite novel was not "War and Peace". Try a true scholar like Oleg Sokolov. This is just in case you were wondering why your edits a were deleted. --Alexandru Demian (talk) 21:45, 12 May 2010 (UTC)

Its going to stay reverted, this is exactly the trolling that kept this article to one fat paragraph for years while folks argued the info box endlessly and no one would contribute for fear of getting involved with the argument, its stupid and childish but it goes on and on, how exactly does this promote a greater understanding of the subject? Oh and Riehn 0-471-54302-0 doesn't list it as Pyrrhic, there were missed opportunities by both sides to make this decisive but it didn't happen.Tirronan (talk) 20:04, 13 May 2010 (UTC)

Actually I am going to take a moment to tone it down, Paul my issue isn't that the battle wasn't a bloody mess it is stated all over that it was a horrific battle. I know, if you go back far enough you will find that I wrote most of this article. My problem is that it isn't the best article that it can be, and it could stand a rewrite, it could most certainly use more good sources, but none of that is answered by an outcome box. I consider it one of the horrid wastes of time that Wikipedians engage in. We present a product that should enlighten the masses, not engage in this sort of stuff. I'm ex-military so I am going to state this, it didn't matter what happened so long as the Russian Army remained intact, it didn't matter how many battles the French won (and they won most of them), the Russians had a much better understanding of time/space and logistics then their French counterparts (Napoleon's genius wasn't much apparent here), and the inevitable grind of the denial of supply by the operations of Russian light cavalry formations and Cossacks means that they continued to lose a Borodino of losses every single month no matter what else happened. I didn't matter that the French won, and yes I wrote the statement you quoted, when they went forward instead of backwards the only thing they won was the right to starve and die. This was a war of logistics and it was logistics that extended it's grim hand and took its toll. Every military war college around the world uses this as the prime example of grim side of logistics (btw the Crimean campaign is the other one). Had the French really lost Borodino the probable result would have been fewer overall French losses, it was that bad. I'm not arguing that this wasn't a outright disaster of a battle (though I am in wonder that the French won with a head on assault), I would argue that in the long haul it mattered little to the campaign that saw thousands dying every week.Tirronan (talk) 21:10, 13 May 2010 (UTC) Thank you for toning down, Tirronan. By doing that you gave me an opportunity to tone down my own response (I failed to post it due to an edit conflict). I need some time to meditate about what you have written and I'll respond later. --Paul Siebert (talk) 21:21, 13 May 2010 (UTC)

As previously noted, your newfound devotion to the sanctity of reliable sources was not exactly evident during your campaign to strongarm the pages' editors into accepting a minority view. (The great mass of sources which contradicted your view did not appear to interest you, or were simply rewritten to fit your preconceived schema.) [toned down] More concretely, I am not inclined to accept the addition of a comment on French casualties in the Result line:

  1. Many victories were historically purchased at the grim cost of high casualties. Borodino is not some isolated exception (for example, the Coalition losses at the Battle of Leipzig were a staggering 54,000, yet the Result simply states, Decisive coalition victory. Why don't I see you rushing to add all sorts of qualifiers or caveats to that statement?) It is neither expected nor assumed that victory necessarily = fewer losses, so the X but Y formula seems devoid both of content and reason for being.
  2. The Russian casualties were also appallingly high, and singling out French losses seems odd and very suspect. As if, to our minds, the reader should naturally expect or presuppose low casualties from the French or Western European "professional/scientific" military apparatus and dramatically high losses from the faceless Russian/Eastern "hordes," both of which are ideological or cultural mystifications and a clear breach of neutrality.
  3. The high French casualties are noted both in the Infobox itself, three inches away, and within the introductory paragraphs. We do not need to state them thrice in the same section.

It is not merely a question of what the sources say, but of which sources are appropriate for different areas of the article (Infobox v. text) and, moreover, which sources can be held as typical or representative of others in the field. Albrecht (talk) 21:30, 13 May 2010 (UTC)

I'm going to propose a compromise here, Riehn, Elting, Chandler, and such are the heavy weights here where references are in English, since I don't speak the language I'd really love to know where the heavy weight Russian historians come down at but if we are all agreed that we can't make the info box say too much then I am proposing that we put it as a French victory, strategically indecisive and leave the tactical out and high casualty part to the actual numbers. I would have a hard time trying to say it was decisive given the losses the French army was suffering anyway. Tirronan (talk) 00:40, 14 May 2010 (UTC) Re: "I'd really love to know where the heavy weight Russian historians come down. " That is a quite reasonable idea, because, as a rule, it is quite natural to use the sources of local origin when we speak about the events that took place outside of the Anglophone world. I am able to read Russian and I saw that Russian Wikipedia describes the outcome as "indecisive". Of course, that hardly prove anything, but. What I know is that old Russian and Soviet sources described the battle as indecisive, whereas more recent sources present the outcome as the Napoleon's tactical victory. I'll try to make a brief summary of what the Russian sources tell on that account, although I need some time for that. However, let's leave the Russian sources beyond the scope for a while: Borodino became a part of the Russian national mythology, so it is hard for Russian (as well as French) scholars to be really neutral in that case. I propose to look at the British (or Anglophone) sources first. You correctly noted: " Had the French really lost Borodino the probable result would have been fewer overall French losses, it was that bad. " However, that is exactly how the term "pyrrhic" is understood. Note, I already agreed that the word "pyrrhic" is too inflammatory and non-academic for the infobox, so I don't insist on it any more (and will not support it if anybody else will try to re-introduce it). However, we have to take into account the following: the victory at Borodino was very costly, it made the Napoleon position much worse, and many sources, including the popular ones describe the victory as "pyrrhic". Based on that, it is incorrect to say that the battle changed nothing, that Napoleon was defeated solely due to the combination of weather, partisan warfare and logistics. The battle itself contributed a lot into his defeat, and the losses he sustained appeared to be irrecoverable. Re: "The Russian casualties were also appallingly high" It is natural to expect that the defeated side suffer significant losses, so to mention Russian losses explicitly would be redundant. Re: "Many victories were historically purchased at the grim cost of high casualties." Correct. But in that case the heavy losses are compensated with something more valuable, e.g. by strategic or political gains. Summarising the Borodino, three different aspects of the battle's outcome can be outlined: (i) the battle was a French local (or tactical) victory (ii) the battle didn't change a strategic balance (iii) the French losses were intolerably high. These three factors are "independent variables", each of them cannot be derived from other two, and each of them was significant per se. Therefore, it is natural to expect them to be presented in the infobox. --Paul Siebert (talk) 02:48, 14 May 2010 (UTC) Re: ". if we are all agreed that we can't make the info box say too much. " I looked at the Battle of Berezina infobox and I found that the outcome is described as follows: "Russian tactical victory French force passage of the Berezina River, but suffer catastrophic losses."

In other words, both "tactical" and "losses" are there, although, commonsensually the outcome should be "Russian decisive victory" (Napoleon lost about a half of his army and the only his success was that he managed to escape).--Paul Siebert (talk) 05:20, 14 May 2010 (UTC)

Oh, tactical is used, often enough and I don't think it is out of place but at some point you have to let the article speak. In large part the reason you see strange info boxes is that the Russian population is not all that willing to see the Russian Army lose at any time. But for instance the Battle of Jutland has indecisive and I strongly agree with it. The Battle of Wavre I have as a Prussian loss even though I consider it a Prussian victory. There are lots of battles with heavy losses and 99.9% of the articles don't point that out, I don't see that it should be the case here either. Being a Texan I would prefer that the Battle of Gettysburg said that we lost (barely) but it shall remain as a loss period. Again we are spending way too much time and effort on an info box and I've gone much further than I really wanted to in the way of a compromise. Now this has to be it. Tirronan (talk) 11:27, 14 May 2010 (UTC) Re: "I've gone much further than I really wanted to in the way of a compromise" Please, realise the following: by accepting one or another changes you are not doing me a favour. I believe we both are trying to find the most adequate description of the events, so if you will demonstrate me that your understanding is closer to what the sources say, I'll accept all your arguments. You have not fully convinced me so far, however. I looked through the infoboxes of other Napoleon related articles and I found that the words "tactical victory" and "losses" are present in some of them. In connection to that I conclude that sometimes (although not always) these words can be relevant to description of the battle's outcome. For instance, going back to the Berezina, that, I concede, was a Napoleon's success, (btw, I found that even Tarle, who lived and wrote during Stalin's time, described it as such), the words on successful passage of Napoleon troops is accompanied by the notion on heavy losses. --Paul Siebert (talk) 05:42, 15 May 2010 (UTC) Paul, enough I have made my final change to the outcome box, I thought about it and realized that reducing a major battle to "tactical" just doesn't work however it is fair to say that it was a strategic loss and I have the sources to back that up (multiple). This is about my time and the effort that I have had to put into an info box, to say the least I am not happy about it. This is trivial but this just had to take up hours of my time and I am angry. I don't want any more of my time taken with this at all. There isn't a thing about this that really improved the article and I can't tell you how armchair quarterback this looks from the 10,000 ft view. I consider myself a much more serious person than this and I resent every second I have had to spend on it. If I have to spend more on it then it will be in front of an arbitration board and an appeal to Wikipedia about outright harassment to achieve your goals. Unless this has to do with IMPROVING the article I don't and will not take another second of my time on this endeavor and I strongly suggest that you move on to something more worth your time and effort.Tirronan (talk) 08:30, 15 May 2010 (UTC) Firstly, your edit obscured the issue: what does "retreat of the Russian Army Strategic Loss " mean? Whose loss? Of course, both you and I understand that the battle was "strategically indecisive/strategical French loss", however, the reader may conclude it was Russian strategic loss. I am not sure that is was your intention. One way or the another, you failed to explain me why the word "tactical" is acceptable in the infoboxes of other articles and is not acceptable here you also presented no arguments in support for your claim that the losses should not be mentioned separately (taking into account that this battle was the most bloody single day battle of XIX century, and taking into account that other infoboxes do mention one or another side's losses explicitly). Frankly, I am ready to agree that you know this period of history better than I do. However, if you are so good specialist, explain your point of view and prove you are right. The references to the time you waste can hardly be an argument here. You are too emotional maybe this would help you. Re: " If I have to spend more on it then it will be in front of an arbitration board and an appeal to Wikipedia about outright harassment to achieve your goals." If you really care about your time, please, don't do that: I don't see how did I violate the spirit or the letter WP policy by doing what I did. Moreover, I would say, by writing that you harassed me (although I am not going to go to any ANI, because I assume your good faith). Cheers. :-)--Paul Siebert (talk) 14:31, 15 May 2010 (UTC) PS. Your "strategic loss" (without specifying whose loss it was) looks like a Freudian slip, and may (although not necessarily is) be a sign of your bias. In addition, please, explain me what is the difference between "French strategic loss" and "Russian strategic victory" and what considerations your choice between these two was based on? PPS. The material added by you has not been attributed properly to the source you used. Since the work you cite is the book, not article, per WP:BURDEN, the page number is needed. Please, do that in close future.--Paul Siebert (talk) 14:48, 15 May 2010 (UTC)

French strategic loss, 2 we are trolling again, what part of I don't want to engage in this didn't you understand? 3. forcing someone to particpate in this isn't at all nice. and you are minutes away from explaining this to admins, so I am going to say this exactly one more time, leave me alone.Tirronan (talk) 10:28, 16 May 2010 (UTC)

Since no page number have been provided (despite my request) it is impossible to verify the "results" statement. I reverted it to what Chandler says.--Paul Siebert (talk) 19:37, 9 June 2010 (UTC) I've added the page numbers read to your hearts content and I've reverted it back but thank you anyway. Tirronan (talk) 13:07, 18 June 2010 (UTC) I replaced "retreat" with "strategic withdrawal" based on what the source says. Since the Riehn's book is relatively old (1990) and mildly revisionist, I am not sure we can use it as a major source. With regard to "French strategic loss", could you please provide a concrete quote your edit is based upon? I am asking because most sources do not describe it as a strategic loss, preferring to say it was strategically indecisive.--Paul Siebert (talk) 22:22, 18 June 2010 (UTC)

As far as I know Chandler is older than Riehn, I'm curious 1st you wanted this to be a Pyrrhic victory then a tactical one, at least in my mind at least one would have a horrific battle that cost the winner the course of the war, the other would make this a minor victory with no cost long term. Now my sources are not good enough and this followed by twice referring to my bias (I've no idea what bias I am supposed to have I am neither French nor Russian) and setting yourself up as arbitrator of what is a good source after bringing forth a travel book as a basis for Pyrrhic victory? Why don't we waste more time arguing ad infinitum ever possible permutation that can be written in the English language about 4 lines at the top of the article? State what you are trying to get to and knock this endless rambling off, I repeat I don't have endless amounts of time for trivial crap or games in semantics. As a case in point I don't have much of an argument that the Russian army retreated or withdrew as they left under their own power unmolested by the French and further according to Riehn (dirty revisionist that he is) stated that the Russian army didn't think itself defeated on the whole. State simply what you want lets get to if I and the other editors can agree on it and find something else to do with your time. By the way really rewriting this article with your better sources would be an outstanding idea! God knows I am not God's gift to editing and 90% of this was done by me and frankly no one owns an article so if you care to take the time to write a article's worth of arguments lets try and be constructive and CONTRIBUTE.Tirronan (talk) 00:52, 19 June 2010 (UTC)

i am not sure these words are supported by all reliable sources. According to Chandler (p. 807) the battle was broken off by almost mutual consent of utterly exhausted combatants, and some Russian generals even planned to renew the battle next day. According to Connelly (p. 177-8), Russian withdrawal was orderly. IMO, this sentence should be modified to comply with what the sources say. --Paul Siebert (talk) 03:28, 21 June 2010 (UTC)

Ok, I'm where I can check, Chandler can't be that off the mark? Please do a through reread hell I make mistakes too, the part about the main French army is correct and they just cannonaded the Russians, but he had all the Guard minus a couple of battery's available to him and he lost the only chance he had of salvaging anything. This is critical to the truth, the greatest battle-master of the age blew it. again. 1. He sacrificed 180,000 men for this chance. 2. When the time came he didn't shove the Guard and everything that could move after them. 3. Then he moves forward knowing how bad his logistics train was. Paul I am not trying to make this out as less of a disaster than it was, but not everything in a battle can come out of the end of a gun, I have quotes from Wolzogen (Barclay's aide de camp) telling Kutuzov that the army was literally falling apart. Riehn also states that Barclay was very concerned about the state of the army at the end of the battle. The losses are not correct later either someone removed the cited numbers and replaced them with numbers and citations from a defunct Russian web site. At the end of the day the French forces lost 33% and the Russians 50%, the French losses were made up shortly and were back to 90k men but there it stayed, while the Russian Army grew to 4x its size at the end of that day. Nor is this a mistake, Kutuzov might not have been a tactical genius but he damn sure knew that you don't buy French lives when you can have them for free. He gave Russian the battle it demanded but not again and the French paid dearly, this was the end of their empire. I by the way am an American I don't have any side that I care about here but I do want the absolute unblemished truth and nothing but. I think that you do also but lets work to make this a better article, this was off the mark by a good bit, the French never really pursued and the Russians took all the time they needed but by 4pm that Russian army was a wreck Riehn Page 254 if you care to get the exact quotes and on 253 it talks a bit about Barclay who was left in charge on the scene on 255 he goes into Napoleon's mistake pretty throughly. If Chandler made these kind of mistakes I don't think you better use him anymore.Tirronan (talk) 02:37, 18 July 2010 (UTC)

Here is the end of the battle section:

Napoleon went forward to see the situation from the former Russian front lines shortly after the redoubts had been taken. The Russians had moved to the next ridge-line in much disarray, however that disarray was not seen from that distance with the dust and haze raised by an army on the move. All he could see were masses of troops in the distance and thus nothing more was attempted. Neither the attack, which relied on brute force, nor the refusal to use the Guard to finish the day's work showed any brilliance on Napoleon's part. [1] Only the misplacement of Russian forces by Kutuzov over both Bagration's and Barclay's protest prevented the ruin of the French army that day. Barclay communicated with Kutuzov in order to receive further instructions. According to Wolzogen (in an account dripping with sarcasm), the commander was found a half-hour away on the road to Moscow, encamped with an entourage of young nobles and grandly pronouncing he would drive Napoleon off the next day. [2] Despite his bluster, Kutuzov knew from dispatches that his army had been too badly hurt to fight a continuing action the following day. He knew exactly what he was doing: by fighting the pitched battle, he could now retreat with the Russian army still intact, lead its recovery, and force the weakened French forces to move even further from their bases of supply. The dénouement became a textbook example of what a hold logistics placed upon an army far from its center of supply. [3] On September 8, the Russian army moved away from the battlefield in twin columns to Semolino, allowing Napoleon to occupy Moscow and await a Russian surrender that would never come. [4]

Now where this section could be expanded to explain both the section where the Cannonading was correct but that isn't the whole story, if you have Chandler lets see what he has to say about Eugene's forces (never much committed) and the Guard (never committed). I've ordered 2 more books 1 by a Russian Historian to get a better perspective, be aware however that I haven't found Riehn wrong on much so it will be interesting to see.Tirronan (talk) 03:00, 18 July 2010 (UTC) I looked for reviews on the source you used (Riehn) and found one written by Chandler himself. The review is positive, so I conclude your source is good in general. However, the Chandler's opinion on the battle should also be taken into account. I am not sure I understand what concrete Chandler's mistakes are you talking about, therefore it is not completely clear for me why his opinion should be rejected. (From other hand, your "At the end of the day the French forces lost 33% and the Russians 50%, the French losses were made up shortly and were back to 90k men but there it stayed, while the Russian Army grew to 4x its size at the end of that day." also look a little bit odd. Chandler gives minimum 30,000 for French and minimum 44,000 for Russian casualties. In addition, you forget two obvious things: firstly, by that time Russian population was smaller that that of France, so the story of vast Russian reserves is simply incorrect. Secondly, there was no conscription during this time in Russia, so no new well trained army could be created for few days, hence Kutusov's decision to save his army by sacrificing Moscow) One way or the another, Chandler's book is available on [1]. By comparing the Chandler's text with my edits you can see that I adequately transmitted his opinion (p. 806-807): the Russian army had been withdrawn in good order, it was far from being disordered. Chandler also considers that, although Napoleon is being frequently criticised for rejecting the Davout's advice to commit the Old Guard, this decision was "probably correct" taking into account Napoleon's strategic situation. Based on that, I believe that, although it would be incorrect to revert your edits, you should modify your edits to bring the text in accordance with both Chandler's and Riehn's opinions. I will be busy during next three weeks, so I hardly will be able to participate in this discussion, however, I assume your good faith and I believe you will be able to resolve the issue by yourself. Good luck. --Paul Siebert (talk) 16:29, 18 July 2010 (UTC) I'll check Chandler on this but you have the opinion of Barclay himself here as to the state of the army at the end of the Battle ( note this is not when they marched off) As you can see from the losses I have them at 28k for the French and 44k for the Russians (Battle losses are always shaky in my opinion), and you have to add 8k worth of displaced troops on the Russian side so I see no issue there. I've got two other books coming and I want their imput as well, I'll note Chandler's opinion on confirmation, (ie I have to read it myself to attribute it) as a dissenting view.Tirronan (talk) 17:03, 18 July 2010 (UTC) On my comments, the French started the Battle of Borodino with 95k give or take a few thousand and the source you get it from, they lost 28-30k give or take a few thousand for the same reason. Within a week of the battle the army called in reserves and Victor's corp arrived bringing the effectvies on the French side back to around 95k. But due to continuing losses additional French reinforcements only kept the French forces at 95k or there abouts (I don't have my source close here). The Russians went to winter camp and its relative size grew 4x larger, better supplies and better resources. The French were at the wrong end of a much reduced supply line. Riehn's statement on the end of the battle was that the Russians were missing 52k (including straggler losses) had no reserve and were in much disarray. The French had Eugene and the Guard corps at the least. Kutuzov was receiving messages were to the same effect, and that he was spouting off for political effect, Wolzogen told Kutuzov this in no uncertain terms and was blown off. However Kutuzov didn't renew battle he moved off. In my opinion he did the right thing but I guess I don't understand why he never attempted to really destroy the French army on the retreat as he could have ended the French then and there. Its not that uncommon for historians to have a different opinion its just not all that normal for an army to take those kind of losses and be forced out and remain in pretty good condition. I've got a book coming from a Russian of some standing and a French fellow as well, that should allow me to get a handle on what is going on.Tirronan (talk) 17:18, 18 July 2010 (UTC) Tarle (a Soviet academician) argued that Kutusov's own goal was to force French out of Russia, not to defeat them. It was a reason of strong disagreement between Alexander and Kutusov. According to Tarle, during the pursuit of retreating Napoleon the Russian army suffered the same problems the Grand Army did, so the number of losses from cold, sickness and hunger was tremendous. That explains Kutusov's motives, which look pretty reasonable from this point of view. I fully understand that we cannot rely on Tarle too much, however, his hypothesis deserves mention. It is still unclear for me where four time increase of Kutusov's army could come from, because, again, there were no conscription in Russia during those times. Anyway, I propose to read more on that account and to return to this issue in August. --Paul Siebert (talk) 17:36, 18 July 2010 (UTC) Riehn stated more than a few times that he was flat scared of Napoleon, given Kutuzov's deployment in Borodino perhaps with some reason. He was also getting old he died within a year I believe and never was on the field during the actual battle so perhaps he wasn't all that well either. I'm not sure that the Russians were suffering anywhere near what the French losses were, those guys managed to lose 30,000 troops in 1 week without a battle in summer. I don't have the book with me right now but I think it was 3 or 4 days actually! I believe that Russian total losses were in the range of about 200k throughout the campaign, the French lost 150k just getting to Borodino.Tirronan (talk) 22:39, 18 July 2010 (UTC)

Outdent I ready Chandler's on this pretty throughly, he is a historian of weight and worth and he gives a very different look at the battle. He has Kutuzov directing the battle throughout while Riehn has him in his tent fairly early and completely off the battlefield. Then they have the states of the army as different then they have the willingness to continue with battle. For now at the least I feel like both sides of this have to be presented. Do any of the other editors have any additional input? If not then I am going to think about this for 2 days and rewrite and present both historians views. As I said I have 2 more historians incoming and perhaps more light will be shed on what happened.Tirronan (talk) 01:47, 20 July 2010 (UTC)

That is exactly what I meant. Please, do that. I am not available during next two weeks so I will be unable to comment on your edits. I'll do that later (if it will be necessary). Let me also add that, by contrast to many editors with whom I sometimes interact on other WP pages, you are absolutely honest and sober editor whose genuine desire is to create a good and neutral content. It was a great pleasure to interact with you. Good luck -)

Hey I have ordered these two books take a look and see what you think? It is sheer hell getting good works on the Russian Campaign in English so I am hopeful that these may shed light on it. 2 "BATTLE OF BORODINO, THE: Napoleon Against Kutuzov (Campaign Chonicles)" Alexander Mikaberidze Hardcover $33.75 Sold by:, LLC 1 "BORODINO: THE MOSCOVA: The Battle for the Redoubts" F. G. Hourtoulle Hardcover $29.67

Cheers (talk) 21:57, 21 July 2010 (UTC)

Well Amazon screwed up and sent me 2 copies of Alexander Mikaberidze's book, I'd prefer that if you can to get a hold of a copy and let me know what you think. I've hardly started but it sure looks awfully through.Tirronan (talk) 07:53, 24 July 2010 (UTC)

Well, the more I research the uglier this gets. I've alluded to issues with histories and find myself reluctant to put what I am finding on the page. Character assignation of historians just isn't ever going to be my thing and some of these fellows should be castigated for publishing what they did. I honest to God thought that Jutland and Waterloo had more sorry Nationalistic crap written than any human could bear and yet this appears to be much worse. At Jutland it was the Beatty/Jellico conflict that colors everything and paste that over with the German's declaring victory while in private admitting abject defeat. I was in my 30's before I began to realize that the Prussian's had played a major part in the Battle of Waterloo from 4pm on. Yet this is worse. in order we have:

1. The Russian command situation which demanded a set of parameters be met regardless of the state of the terrain or the state of the Russian army. 2. Barclay had been relieved primarily for continuing to retreat when the mood of the nation and of both armies demanded he attack. But secondarily for being an ethic Scott. 3. Kutuzov had to attack but the state of the terrain gave no position that couldn't be marched around. 4. Kutuzov had to win or give the appearance to win or lose his command in disgrace. 5. Kutuzov issues what amounts to a disinformation campaign during and after the battle which is pressed forward as truth by various parties as it fulfilled their interests and further now allowed the Russian Army to go back to the logistics deprivation/follow the ghost tactics that had already cost the French Army 150,000 troops. 6. The Russian Army loses about 52k troops, I have a list of 9 figures that are all over the place, give or take. 8k would return over the next few days bringing loses to about 44k (again lots of figures available but which is right?). 7. The Russian Army isn't in good shape at the end of the fight, however, no part of the Army understands the plight of the entire army and most important it doesn't consider itself defeated. This part is believable, you see much of the same thing from the Prussians at the Battle of Ligny and again the French don't pursue. There are parallels between the two Battles that are eerie. Kutuzov proclaims a victory and orders to the effect that the Russian Army will renew the battle on the next day. Reports filtering in to his headquarters are making it very clear that the Army has "shot its bolt" for now. 8. Their is lying for the right reason and lying for self promotion, in this case Kutuzov covered both and it was the right thing to do given the political realities of his and the Russian Army's situation. While Alexander didn't like him, and both Barclay and Bagration couldn't stand him (he did seem to drive those two into each others friendship which was amazing)he was the one man that could command the entirety of the Russian Armies without question at that time. His disinformation allowed an Army that didn't think it had been defeated to make a very orderly retreat and begin rebuilding a smooth process. 9. Ok so admittedly disinformation was the right tactic at this point but then it makes its way into the histories of the time unfettered and unchecked for veracity, and so we have distortion origin #1. 10. During the Soviet era this battle began to take on mythic proportions where a formula is now set in place that all histories are now supposed to adhere to. One of these being that Kutuzov is now ranked "two heads" above Napoleon (I've no idea what that means) while Barclay and Bagration are now Napoleon's equals on the Battlefield. Any historian not giving due according to the formula can expect rebuke. Please note that Kutuzov's contemporaries didn't think much of his abilities on the battlefield (The Runaway of Austerlitz being one of the name he had during that time) and were fairly outspoken about it. 11. After the Soviet era we start getting some of the best works available on the Battle from Russian historians, they still have not made their way into the western press unfortunately. 12. Western histories are mostly limited to French documents, bear in mind "to lie like a bulletin" was a common French saying at the time. Whatever can be laid at the feet of Kutuzov in disinformation may be also laid at the feet of Napoleon in equal measure and over a longer period of time. So we get how the French Army was defeated by the Russian Winter when in fact the vast majority of the losses took place before entering Moscow, most of them for lack of adaptability to a new theater of operations. 13. Personal disputes deeply color accounts, Wologzen hated Kutuzov and how much that effects what he wrote I know not. Again Saint Cyr and Ordinot, and Ney and Ordinot, dislike one another intensely.

I'm suggesting that you read the new history and Riehn as well as Chandler and I am going to refrain from making any changes for a couple of weeks.Tirronan (talk) 15:16, 8 August 2010 (UTC)

I agree that there is no great option for the result on this battle, but I think to avoid calling a result altogether amounts to offloading a major encyclopedic responsibility because the intellectual task happens to be difficult or tricky. The reference to project policies above is unwise in this context. This is a major battle in world history people need a quick snapshot of what happened there. There should be something mentioned in the result, even something that highlights the strategic implications of the battle, which were obviously favorable to the Russians in the long-term. Personally I favor 'Tactical French victory', but obviously I'm willing to accept democratic consensus on something else. UBER ( talk ) 02:04, 18 January 2015 (UTC)

There are some battles and a few wars that just flat don't fit in a result box, and this is one of them. I absolutely refused to get into a "who won" but some points to ponder. Had the French lost, recovered the corps coming up to join the French Army and Napoleon quickly traveled back on his supply chain he would have been much better off. Within 6 weeks the French were down to 95,000 and the Russian Army had a comfortable lead in both troops and equipment. So we have a case where the Russian's won by losing. try sticking that in a results box. Rhein and Miberkazi both came down to 27,000 French losses for the 1 day battle and 35,000 for the 2 day battle. Devout lost 30,000 in one week of forced marches less than a month before. So if I was forced "gun to head" to put something in the result box it would be Tactical French victory, French Logistical catastrophic loss. Because that is exactly what happened. For all Napoleon's battlefield genius both Barclay and Kutuzov understood time, space, and logistics, over the long run far better than he ever did. Tirronan (talk) 09:43, 21 January 2015 (UTC) "So we have a case where the Russian's won by losing. try sticking that in a results box". I have. It's called a Pyrrhic victory - by hundreds of historians over two centuries - but not by you. And your opinion, seems to be the only one that matters, right? ZinedineZidane98 (talk) 02:13, 22 January 2015 (UTC) I think the excerpt from the documentation above for the infobox is telling. If it's not inconclusive, a victory, or a decisive victory - and Borodino fits nicely into none of those categories - then leave it blank. Borodino is "a bit more complicated than that", and that's a matter for the article. Perhaps however we might rewrite the lead to bring the result more to prominence? At a rough stab, I suggest: The Battle of Borodino (Russian: Бородинское сражение, Borodinskoe srazhenie French: Bataille de la Moskova), fought on September 7, 1812,[7] was a major engagement in the Napoleonic Wars during the French invasion of Russia. The fighting involved around 250,000 troops and produced at least 70,000 casualties, making Borodino the single deadliest day of the Napoleonic Wars. Napoleon's Grande Armée launched an attack against the Russian army, driving the latter back from their initial positions but failing to score a decisive victory. Both armies were exhausted after the battle and the Russians withdrew from the field the following day. Borodino represented the last Russian effort at stopping the French advance on Moscow, which fell a week later but Napoleon's failure to score a decisive victory ensured that his army would continue deeper into Russia with no clear way of bringing Czar Alexander to peace, resulting ultimately in the retreat from Moscow and the defeat of the French invasion. and move the displaced "The battle unfolded near the village of Borodino, west of the town of Mozhaysk." into the second para, something like ". in order to save Moscow, the Russians decided to make a final stand near the village of Borodino, west of the town of Mozhaysk." Pinkbeast (talk) 11:59, 21 January 2015 (UTC) Pyrrhic victory means that the winning side has significantly heavier losses in the battle, which was clearly not the case here.Charles (talk) 09:55, 22 January 2015 (UTC) And what is your source for that extremely narrow definition? All the world's historians are wrong in their use of the term "pyrrhic" when they apply it to this battle? Perhaps you should publish your original research in a peer-reviewed journal, it's quite a ground-breaking revelation you've made here. ZinedineZidane98 (talk) 17:41, 22 January 2015 (UTC) How about we just agree to do something crazy, like follow the lead of the mainstream, established authorities on this battle? ZinedineZidane98 (talk) 17:44, 22 January 2015 (UTC) And the Russians didn't "win by losing", but won the campaign by losing the battle but not too badly. If they had been destroyed by pursuit, Napoleon would have been in a better position afterwards. Pinkbeast (talk) 11:29, 23 January 2015 (UTC)

Can I invite comment on my proposed rewording above to make the consequences clear in the lead? It may have gotten lost in the usual "pyrrhic" argument. Pinkbeast (talk) 11:29, 23 January 2015 (UTC)

Greetings again PB. I'm responding in this case as a reader rather than an editor of this article. I understand your reasoning but other Wiki versions -and my 1960's history books were unequivocal -French tactical victory but strategic defeat. Pyrrhic victory if you like. Our discussion cannot change clear scholarly view. JRPG (talk) 11:37, 6 March 2015 (UTC) Other Wiki versions are not a source, and (as we can see above from various linked sources) the scholarly view is not at all clear, with different sources saying different things. (I don't, no, like "pyrrhic victory", because it means something else.) Additionally, it is plain from the linked description of Template:Infobox military conflict that the intention is to try to avoid potted summaries of complex results in the infobox. This also seems sensible to me anything we could fit into the infobox would be misleading, and the reader would have to read the article anyway to find out what happened. In the meantime I am going to make the changes proposed above, since no-one has objected. They will, I hope, improve clarity on this point. Pinkbeast (talk) 11:50, 6 March 2015 (UTC) Put another way: what could we put in the infobox that would be short but accurate? I (and others) contend the answer is "nothing", because an accurate summary of the outcome of Borodino needs to describe something complex. Pinkbeast (talk) 11:58, 6 March 2015 (UTC) Infoboxes are intended to be a brief summary of a subject and contain only key facts. A result for this complex situation is always going to be opinion rather than fact in some degree and is better discussed in the body of the article. Leave it blank.Charles (talk) 14:08, 6 March 2015 (UTC) A bit late to be pretending you've actually engaged on the talk page and not just edit-warred, isn't it Charles? For the umpteenth time, why is it that you believe that your own personal opinion trumps the COUNTLESS SCHOLARLY SOURCES I have provided? ZinedineZidane98 (talk) 19:12, 6 March 2015 (UTC) The obvious historic comparison which most people will know is Battle of the Coral Sea -a featured article -described as a Japanese tactical victory and a US strategic victory. Very similarly Operation_Pedestal Tactical Axis victory, Strategic Allied victory. Regards JRPG (talk) 21:29, 6 March 2015 (UTC) I'm not totally convinced by Operation Pedestal, nohow. The Axis sunk some ships, but not enough? It seems that the Axis objective was to wipe out the whole convoy. But, again - if it's too complex to put in the infobox, don't put it in the infobox. The French "tactical victory" was not what they would count as a victory they dislodged the Russians at horrendous cost but left their army still coherent. The Russian "strategic victory" was a lucky coincidence - if the Russians had had a better tactical outcome it might well have been strategically worse if Napoleon was forced to fall back earlier. Pinkbeast (talk) 01:09, 7 March 2015 (UTC) At the risk of abusing talk-pages, re Pedestal, my father was on Malta when the Ohio arrived and the BBC published some of the material I wrote about it. Malta would have surrendered if Ohio & a supply ship hadn't arrived & it was known in advance that any losses were acceptable to keep the island. I do accept Pedestal wasn't a Pyrrhic victory as the Axis didn't suffer massive losses. Re Borodino, Russian losses weren't planned but delaying Russian surrender meant the French army was destroyed by the winter. Note the Spanish Armada which also involved a timing issue has a complex summary. The Armada wasn't defeated, it was delayed & couldn't stay in position to allow the invasion. Hope that helps! JRPG (talk) 17:07, 7 March 2015 (UTC) Well, I don't much like these X tactical, Y strategic infoboxes - but even if one can live with that wording, I don't think Borodino would be a good fit for it. A "strategic victory" where you're defeated (not just immediately, but in terms of the objective - in this case, to save Moscow) and it turns out some time down the line that, for reasons you never anticipated, it worked out? That's as if the Axis had sunk every supply ship, taken Malta, and a conveniently-timed outbreak of some hideously contagious disease on the island was transmitted back to Europe and incapacitated everyone on their side. "Allied strategic victory" would be stretching the point. I think Spanish Armada illustrates the point nicely. Even as a reader already familiar with the Armada, I look at the text in the infobox and go "Eh? I'm confused!". I'm quite certain someone actually trying to find out what the outcome was isn't at all aided by that mish-mosh in the infobox. Also, if we put _something_ in we'll then have the spectre of "pyrrhic victory" looming over us again.Pinkbeast (talk) 12:37, 18 March 2015 (UTC)

I've locked the article for one week. The editors involved in reverting each other on this article will have to come to a clear consensus as to what should go in the infobox. Perhaps an RfC is the only way to make it clear. Without such a consensus, if I see anyone reverting after the lock expires, that editor may be blocked without notice by me or any other administrator.--Bbb23 (talk) 20:22, 6 March 2015 (UTC)

Fair enough it takes two to tango, although I have not spuriously accused anyone of vandalism. I would abide by the result of an RfC. I am trying to address the issue by moving the outcome further up the article proper. Then again, it's easy for me to interpret my own actions as sensible. Pinkbeast (talk) 01:12, 7 March 2015 (UTC) From "the King James version of Russian history", Geoffrey Hosking's Russia and the Russians (2012 edition): "Napoleon's hitherto successful strategy had been to seek battle with their main army, when his own tactical skill, together with numbers, superior maneuverability, and higher morale of his troops almost invariably brought him victory. It did so even against the Russians, when the generals at last stood their ground at Borodino in September 1812, but only at a very heavy cost in casualties, debilitating for an army so deep in enemy territory. Besides, even victory did not guarantee the success of the invasion. Kutuzov abandoned Moscow, as the defeat at Borodino compelled him to do, but he did not surrender. " (p. 251) So, I would like to know, why the opinion of Charles and Pinkbeast are more worthy of adherence on this point, than perhaps the highest living authority on Russian history writing in the English language. Thankyou. ZinedineZidane98 (talk) 17:57, 19 March 2015 (UTC) Nobody is claiming to be more worthy. We can argue all day over a black or white outcome which does not exist. That is why there is a wider consensus at the military history project to leave the outcome blank in such cases.Charles (talk) 10:12, 20 March 2015 (UTC) That's not an argument. Just typing "there is a wider consensus at the military history project to leave the outcome blank in such cases" is not an argument for anything. ZinedineZidane98 (talk) 18:22, 20 March 2015 (UTC) Hosking does not use the words "pyrrhic victory" there, which you have favoured in the past indeed, were we to write the infobox purely on the basis of that quote, we would describe Borodino as a "French victory" in the infobox - grossly misleading since in the long run it brought about disaster. Focusing on the precise wording chosen by individual sources is unlikely to be productive, because of course they won't all choose the same words. The book I have nearest to hand is "Napoleon", Alan Forrest, 2011, who writes of Smolensk and Borodino: "Neither battle was conclusive certainly neither was a great tactical Napoleonic triumph. The carnage was frightful, the losses shocking on both sides. Each time the Russians withdrew after the battle, and each time Napoleon was lured further into the Russian heartland." All I'm saying is that anything that goes in the infobox should be concise - we should not be trying to squeeze the first paragraph of the article into there - and accurate. Borodino does not, I feel, admit of such a description. Pinkbeast (talk) 16:53, 20 March 2015 (UTC) Your source doesn't contradict mine. And I can easily find more (so can you, with Google, as you did above) - both with and without the "Pyrrhic" terminology. Shall I? Indeed, infoboxes may be misleading in some cases, but they're a part of Wikipedia, whether you like it or not. And yes, Borodino was a French victory - you won't find a high quality source that says otherwise. It was for such victories, that the phrase was coined "won/lost the battle, won/lost the war". I mean, seriously, how many sources will satisfy you? 5? 10? 20? ZinedineZidane98 (talk) 18:22, 20 March 2015 (UTC) Infoboxes are certainly a part of Wikipedia, yes but that does not seem a justification to put misleading text into them. Pinkbeast (talk) 01:27, 21 March 2015 (UTC) Right, and why is the text referring to the opinion of countless scholars "misleading"? More importantly, why should anyone care what you personally think is misleading, when your opinion is is contradicted by said scholars? ZinedineZidane98 (talk) 16:27, 22 March 2015 (UTC) Folks, first with all due respect given, ZinedineZidane98 is on the way to a permanent ban because of his behavior in Wikipedia. While I can't and won't call this trolling, arguing with the gentleman seems to be giving him fuel to keep this up. I and a couple of others brought this article up from 2 fat paragraphs to GA. I would strongly suggest that we go to binding arbitration and reach a consensus so as to lock the results section down. Let us just put down our ideas and a recommendation and be done with this. I put up with this sort of nonsense over at the War of 1812 and the Battle of Jutland. I've done a lot of this in this article as well. For all this pointless arguing over a results box has again stopped this article from making its way to FA. Is this really what we want? How about we list ourselves as one of the editors of this article and post what each of us thinks the results box should be? I'll start, Tirronan French Tactile Victory / Russian Strategic Victory. I base the first because at the end of the day the French held the field and by the second day the Russians had to retreat. I base the second because the victory allowed Napoleon to believe he could win and marched on when he needed to retreat. I would abide by the rest of an RFC or similar. I doubt my position is news to anyone, but I believe it should be left blank. The result is too complex to express in an infobox instead it is better to (as I have done) try to explain it in the first paragraph of the article. It seems clear (above) that the documentation for the infobox discourages inserting complex results. I feel also that "Russian Strategic Victory" is unsatisfactory because of the accidental nature of that victory. Yes, Borodino resulted in their ultimate victory, but it's not like anyone saw it that way at the time. It appeared to be a strategic defeat. Pinkbeast (talk) 11:33, 27 March 2015 (UTC) Both Barclay and Kutuzov were very aware of Napoleon's supply issues and for all of Kutuzov's proclamations followed Barclay's plan after Borodino. That being said I would be happy with either outcome and would abide by an RFC as well. So we have two choices and hopefully a few more will emerge.Tirronan (talk) 14:59, 27 March 2015 (UTC)

dead, wounded and captured?

surely casualties and captured is better terminology?

I'm creating this section to put forward the objection and the alternative.

First of all, Template:Infobox military conflict does not favour the result parameter being used to explain more complex outcomes, and Borodino has a complex outcome. Nor do I the nature of an infobox is that it is a small potted summary. Either the infobox here would fill up with a complex discussion, or it would have a result which is short, snappy, and misleading - like the one proposed.

Secondly, it's not clear that Borodino was a French victory. The French might be said to have two objectives - to dislodge the Russians (yes) and to destroy the Russian army (no). Furthermore, of these objectives, it transpired that their failure to achieve the second was what led to the failure of the entire campaign.

Thirdly, it was not a pyrrhic victory, no matter if some sources have regrettably misused the term. "A Pyrrhic victory is a victory that inflicts such a devastating toll on the victor that it is tantamount to defeat", but the French losses at Borodino were not the cause of their ultimate defeat. It would have done them no good to be stuck in a burned-out Moscow with an extra thirty thousand mouths to feed. Cold-bloodedly, also, they inflicted still greater losses on the smaller Russian army the exchange was in their favour.

Fourthly, Template:Infobox military conflict does suggest setting the result parameter to a link to a section of the article which discusses the outcome in detail. I see no reason we should not do that. Pinkbeast (talk) 12:10, 28 June 2015 (UTC)

Who really won the battle of Borodino

September 7, 1812 was one of the most brutal one-day battle. The French called it the “Bataille de la Moskova”, the Russians – the battle of Borodino. Different names, unclear results – ambiguous victory. 7 estimates of the “Russian victory” at Borodino.

“From all my battles the worst thing is that I gave at Moscow. The French showed themselves worthy of victory, and the Russian courted the right to be invincible. Of the fifty battles I have data in the battle of Moscow, the French showed the most prowess and gained the least success.”

J. RAPP (adjutant General of the Emperor)

“the Battle was won, but fierce fire was still going. The dressing made me a surgeon of Napoleon. The Emperor himself came to visit me. “Again, that means it’s your turn? How are you doing?” — “Your Majesty, I think You have to be in guard.” “I won’t do it don’t want to risk it. I am sure that you will win the battle without her participation”. Indeed, the guard in combat was not involved, with the exception of thirty guns, made the right miracles.”

A. De Caulaincourt (chief master of the horse of the Emperor)

“the Night it was apparent that the enemy began to retreat: the army was ordered to move behind him. The next day it was possible to detect only the Cossacks, and, moreover, only two leagues from the battlefield. The enemy claimed the vast majority of their wounded, and we got only those prisoners about whom I said, 12 guns of the redoubt, taken my poor brother, and three or four others, taken at the first attacks.”

L. De Beausset (Palace prefect)

“whatever it was, but the victory was complete, so complete, that the Russian army was never for a moment could believe in the possibility to defend their capital. But this did not prevent them to serve as prayer”.

M. I. Kutuzov (field Marshal)

“This day will remain an eternal monument to her husbandof assets and excellent bravery of the Russian soldiers, where all infantry, cavalry and artillery fought desperately. The desire of all to die on the spot and not to yield to the enemy. The French army under leadership of Napoleon, being foremost of the forces overcame the fortitude of the Russian soldier, to sacrifice life for the Fatherland”.

D. N. Bolhovsky (duty staff officer)

“…We retreated the next day after the battle, not broken, but the lack of capable of fighting, while the enemy had at its disposal fresh troops. But where is the reason for this apparent and unexplained inaction of Napoleon? How to understand that in the beginning of the battle he acted offensive and bringing the matter to the end, and in three hours, at a time when he was able to master all the items that we took to the front from the swiftness of his attacks, and thus, in a moment of obsession full success he held, rather, in a defensive position, rather than actively”.

A. B. Golitsyn (the adjutant of Kutuzov)

“Kutuzov never thought to give battle the next day, but she said that one policy. The night I rode with Toll position where our weary warriors slept like the dead, and he was told that it is impossible to think to go forward, and even less to defend with 45 thousand places that were occupied 96 in the thousands, especially when Napoleon whole guards corps did not participate in the battle. Kutuzov knew all this, but was waiting for this report and, after hearing him, ordered without delay to retreat, instructing Platov’s rearguard. He quickly moved away, 2 hours brought almost the whole French army in position to Mozhaysk, where it was expected to defend and not to concede it to the French to the other day, but it did without this.”

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Slave to the Game

The Battle of Borodino. September 7, 1812. Situation at 12.30 p.m. Napoleon is making his second attempt to break Russian left flank, anchored at Semenovskoe village.

Map of the Borodino battlefield

French (blue) and Russian (red) forces before the start of the battle. Black cross is marking the place where panorama's viewer is standing (approximately in the center of Semenovskoye Village). Black line corresponds with the left border of the first frame and connects viewer location with the north end of Kniazkovo village. Arrow marks the direction of clockwise viewing from 1st frame to the last (9th).

FRAME I. Semenovskoye Village

1. After Prince Bagration has been mortally wounded, General D.S. Dokhturov was appointed as Commander of the 2nd Russian Army. He is standing near regimental drum in the foreground.

2. Soldiers of the Moscow and Astrakhan Grenadier Regiments are moving through the village.

3. Regiment officers salute to the General Dokhturov before joining the battle.

4. Behind the village Roubaud painted soldiers of the 3rd, 27th Infantry and 2nd Grenadier Divisions forming battle order under General Konovnicyn. They has been defending Bagration Redoubts and Semenovskoye village all morning.

5. Dragoons of the Kharkov and Chernigov Regiments just arrived on the scene and are dismounting, ready to hold positions on the eastern bank of Semenovskiy stream.

FRAME II. Battle for Semenovskiy Ravine

1. Russian Guard artillery battery, deployed along the edge of the Semenovsky Ravine, firing at the advancing French cavalry.

2. Supported by artillery fire, Russian grenadiers are crossing Semenovskiy stream, preparing for the hand-to-hand fighting with French infantry.

3. The Lithuania, Izmaylov and Finland Guard Regiments are standing in squares behind the village, on the Semenovskiy heights. They were holding positions for 6 hours under attacks of French cuirassiers and murderous artillery fire, taking 50% casualties by he end of the battle.

4. Two French Cuirassier Divisions under General Nansuti and General Bruyere&rsquos Light Cavalry Division are trying to break squares of the Russian infantry.

FRAME III. Hand-to-Hand Fighting

1. Crossing Semenovsky Ravine, grenadiers engage in hand-to-hand fighting.

2. Their opponents are from French infantry column under General Friant, which has been ordered to cut Russian position in half. (See details of the engagement on the picture below).

3. Two Russian field fortifications (Bagration&rsquos Redoubts) are seen on the right. After 6-hours fighting they have been occupied by the French troops.

4. Divisions of the Davout&rsquos and Ney&rsquos Corps, weakened after the morning fight for the Redoubts, are standing along the edge of the Utitsa Woods.

FRAME IV. French Positions

1. Advance of the General Frian infantry is supported by French Guard horse artillery under General Sorbier, deployed for action and suffering from the Russian counter-battery fire.

2. Behind the cannons third of Bagration&rsquos Redoubts, already taken by the French.

FRAME V. Westphalian Cuirassiers

1. Davout&rsquos and Ney&rsquos Corps are on standby near Utitsa Woods.

2. On the background is Shevardino redoubt, taken by French Army the day before, visible on top of a hill.

3. The hill is flanked by French Old Imperial and Young Imperial Guards.

4. At the foot of Shevardino hill Napoleon himself stands on his white horse, surrounded by the members of his stuff.

5. Messengers are approaching Napoleon from the different directions. They inform him about unsuccessful attacks against strong Russian resistance, and ask for reinforcements. Battle is already raging for eight hours, but Napoleon still has not succeeded neither on the left flank, nor in the center. Napoleon just received advice to use Old Imperial Guard for breaking Russian resistance, but he refused, saying that he would not spend his last reserve so far from France.

FRAME VI. Attack of the Saxon Cuirassiers

Hoping to break through Russian position Napoleon ordered French cavalry to attack the north edge of Semenovskoe Village.

1. In the foreground Westphalian cuirassiers from General H. Lepel&rsquos brigade are moving forward to attack.

2. Commander of the French cavalry Marshal Murat, dressed in his signature custom-made uniform is watching this attack, sitting on the white horse close to the right from the Westphalians.

3. Saxon cuirassiers of the Zastrow Regiment from the 7th heavy Cavalry Division under G. Lorge are crossing the Semenovskiy Ravine, which is slowing attack.

4. Squadrons of the 2nd Reserve Cavalry Corps under Montbrun are assembling for the new attack.

5. French artillery of the 4th Corps under Prince Eugene Beauharnais opens fire on the Russian positions.

FRAME VII. Cavalry Fight on the Rye Field

1. The Saxon Guard du Core and Zastrow&rsquos cuirassiers are attacking Russian cavalry. The wounded Russian cuirassier fighting to the death in the midst of the Saxons (see details on the picture below).

2. Russian cuirassier brigade under General N.M. Borozdin rushed in to counterattack.

3. His Imperial Majesty Russian Guard Cuirassier Regiment has already joined the fighting.

4. On the background Kiev and Novorossiysk Dragoon Regiments are attacking Polish uhlans under General Roznecki.

5. In the distance Borodino village with landmark Church of Nativity.

6. Rayevsky&rsquos battery, all-important center of the Russian position is covered by artillery smoke.

FRAME VIII. Russian Cavalry Counter-attacks

1. In the foreground His Majesty's Guard Cuirassier Regiment is moving in to attack the Saxons.

2. Cuirassiers are supported by the Akhtyrsk and Astrahan hussars.

3. General N.M. Borozdin and his ADCs are on the flank of cuirassiers.

4. Behind the attacking cuirassiers General M. B. Barclay de Tolly, the 1st Russian Army Commander-in-chief, with officers of his staff.

5. On the background near Gorki village, General M.I.Kutusov, commander of the Russian Army with members of his stuff.

6. On his right 2nd and 3d Cavalry Corps are moving in from position in reserve.

FRAME IX. Russian Reserves

360 degree panoramic turn is complete.

1. Again on the foreground are the outskirts of Semenovskoye village, shattered by the French artillery fire.

2. Russian soldiers of Moscow and Astrakhan regiments from the 2nd Grenadier Division under command of Major-General Prince of Mecklenburg are moving past the burning houses.

3. Cavalier Guard and Horse Guard regiments are placed behind the village houses.

4. Carts with wounded are driven to the Russian main field hospital in Kniazkovo village.

5. Mortally wounded Commanding General of the Russian 2nd army, holding left wing, Prince P.I. Bagration, is taken back from his last battlefield.

6. Officers of the Guard regiments give him the farewell salute.

7. On the far left Preobrazhensky and Semenovsky Foot Guard Regiments form Russian reserves, ready to engage enemy.

Final storm of Rayevsky's battery Final storm of Rayevsky's battery Final Storm of the Rayevsky's Battery

oubaud panorama is supported by meticulously detailed material foreground (see 4 examples below). Roubaud panorama is supported by meticulously detailed material foreground (see 4 examples below). oubaud panorama is supported by meticulously detailed material foreground (see 4 examples below). Roubaud panorama is supported by meticulously detailed material foreground (see 4 examples below). Roubaud panorama is supported by meticulously detailed material foreground (see 4 examples below). Working on his majestic Borodino panorama, Roubaud made hundreds preliminary sketches and many full-size paintings, like this "Final storm of Rayevsky's battery", presented below.

Roubaud panorama is supported by meticulously detailed material foreground (see 4 examples below). Roubaud. Final storm of Rayevsky's battery.

To Moscow and back

Although Borodino was a French victory, it was a Pyrrhic one. According to Armand de Caulaincourt, Napoleon’s Master of the Horse and brother of the slain general:

The Emperor went into the town towards noon [on September 8 th ]. He was very much preoccupied, for affairs in Spain were weighing him down just when those in Russia, despite this victorious battle, were far from satisfactory. The state of the various corps which he had seen was deplorable. All were sadly reduced in strength. His victory had cost him dear. When he had come to a halt on the previous evening, he had felt convinced that this bloody battle, fought with an enemy who had abandoned nothing in their retreat, would have no result beyond allowing him to gain further ground. The prospect of entering Moscow still enticed him, however but even that success would be inconclusive so long as the Russian army remained unbroken. Everyone noticed that the Emperor was very thoughtful and worried, although he frequently repeated: ‘Peace lies in Moscow.’ (16)

The French entered Moscow on September 14, only to find the city largely abandoned. That night, fires broke out and raged for three days, destroying most of Moscow. Lacking supplies and with winter approaching, Napoleon began his long and costly retreat from Russia on October 19. As the remnants of the Grande Armée passed the field of Borodino almost two months after the battle, they came upon a horrible sight.

There lay stretched before us a plain trampled, bare, and devastated, all the trees cut down within a few feet from the surface, and farther off craggy hills, the highest of which appeared misshapen, and bore a striking resemblance to an extinguished volcano. The ground around us was everywhere covered with fragments of helmets and cuirasses, with broken drums, gun-stocks, tatters of uniforms, and standards dyed with blood.

On this desolate spot lay thirty thousand half-devoured corpses while a pile of skeletons on the summit of one of the hills overlooked the whole. It seems as though death had here fixed his throne. (17)

  1. Louis-François Lejeune, Memoirs of Baron Lejeune, translated by Mrs. Arthur Bell, Vol. II (London, 1897), pp. 177-178.
  2. Claude-François de Méneval, Memoirs Illustrating the History of Napoleon I From 1802 to 1815, Vol. III (New York, 1894), pp. 52-53.
  3. Armand de Caulaincourt, With Napoleon in Russia (New York, 1935), p. 96.
  4. Jakob Walter, A German Conscript With Napoleon: Jakob Walter’s Recollections of the Campaigns of 1806-1807, 1809, and 1812-1813, according to a manuscript found at Lecompton, Kansas, edited and translated by Otto Springer (Lawrence KS, 1938), p. 39.
  5. Henri de Roos (Heinrich von Roos), Avec Napoléon en Russie (Paris, 1913), pp. 80-82.
  6. Ibid., p. 84.
  7. Méneval, Memoirs Illustrating the History of Napoleon I From 1802 to 1815, Vol. III, p. 53.
  8. Eugène Labaume, A Circumstantial Narrative of the Campaign in Russia (Hartford, 1817), p. 124.
  9. Lejeune, Memoirs of Baron Lejeune, pp. 182-183.
  10. Labaume, A Circumstantial Narrative of the Campaign in Russia, pp. 125-126.
  11. Lejeune, Memoirs of Baron Lejeune, pp. 186-187.
  12. Labaume, A Circumstantial Narrative of the Campaign in Russia, pp. 131-132.
  13. Lejeune, Memoirs of Baron Lejeune, pp. 188-190.
  14. Roos, Avec Napoléon en Russie, p. 88.
  15. Walter, A German Conscript With Napoleon, p. 41.
  16. Caulaincourt, With Napoleon in Russia, pp. 104-105.
  17. Philippe de Ségur, History of the Expedition to Russia Undertaken by the Emperor Napoleon in the Year 1812, Vol. II (New York, 1872), p. 119.

10 commments on &ldquoBattle of Borodino: Bloodiest Day of the Napoleonic Wars&rdquo

As well as the terrible human cost, read somewhere that 26k to 45k horses were killed. Did you find that true in your research? Good to see the blog today, thanks so much!

You’re welcome, Randy! Glad you’re enjoying the blog. Thanks for bringing up the poor horses of Borodino. One figure I saw was around 36,000 killed, so the numbers you quote sound plausible.

I just happen to be reading Segur’s account of Borodino, on the 7 of September. I found the story to be fascinating and read some of the pages several times. I am a professional horseman and I understand the problems with keeping horses alive under these conditions. Of course the army moved with wagons and horses and a working horse needs a minimum of thirty pounds of feed per day to maintain the vitality to continue to work. The horse also needs 5 to 10 gallons of water per day. Horses can lose weight and continue to work, but when they don’t get enough water, they will be dying on a regular basis.
I write historical fiction. I try to keep the history accurate and by telling a good story people learn history. Thanks for the good read.

Thanks for these details about the horses, Dylan. I’m with you on the importance of accuracy in historical fiction.

Canvassing on RFC by ZidaneZidane98

The potential to cherry-pick ones who they feel are likely to agree is obvious. This is sharp practice. Pinkbeast (talk) 15:11, 30 June 2015 (UTC)

Nice try. But "Auntieruth55" was suggested to me by "Ian_Rose", as you would have seen, if you bothered to read the above diff you posted. ZinedineZidane98 (talk) 15:22, 30 June 2015 (UTC) So, so far, you have only cherry-picked one editor. Good. Please don't do it again. Pinkbeast (talk) 15:23, 30 June 2015 (UTC) Who have I "cherry-picked"? Ian Rose is the head of the Military History Project - , and he excused himself due to an admitted lack of expertise (an honorable move, you should take note), suggesting two editors who he knew to be specialists in this area, both of whom have commented. Who else do you suggest I should have asked for input? The more eyes on this the better, as far as I'm concerned. The sources are definitive. ZinedineZidane98 (talk) 15:33, 30 June 2015 (UTC) Pinkbeast, I was not cherrypicked, I was identified as an authority in the Napoleonic wars by Ianrose, the lead coordinator. I suggest you two stop this mindless bickering. Add Pyrrhic French victory to the info box, and get on to other things. Make sure the article clearly states why it was a Pyrrhic victory, please, and cite such sources as Rothenberg and Alex's book, and we're good. Please move on guys. There is a lot of work to be done, and we don't need to expend energy in discussing the number of angels on the head of a pin. auntieruth (talk) 19:48, 30 June 2015 (UTC) We wouldn't be expending this energy if ZinedineZidane98 - someone whose entire use of Wikipedia is edit-warring, judging by their talk page history - hadn't been willing to go on about it for years. It takes two to tango (or rather, at least two, since I'm hardly the only editor fed to the back teeth with their approach) - difference being, I've actually been editing the article itself to try and improve the situation rather than coming back every few months for another revert. I agree with the instructions on the template, and I don't agree it was a pyrrhic victory, full stop, because it was not the costs of Borodino that caused the eventual disaster. I'm not the only one, either in the previous talk page history or attracted by this RFC. I do appreciate the point that leaving it blank is undesirable, which is why I've made a third proposal. Essentially, you're saying "shut up and do it my way". I can get that from Zinedine (and indeed I have had a surfeit thereof). Pinkbeast (talk) 21:36, 30 June 2015 (UTC) We're not saying "my way", we're saying, "the historians/scholars way". This isn't a matter of opinion between random anonymous internet identities. The sources are all that count. ZinedineZidane98 (talk) 03:11, 1 July 2015 (UTC)

Battle of Borodino.

Just to make some light on the pervasive utterly exaggerated misconception from any side on the role of either "General Winter" (actually Autumn), "Grandfather Frost", "Captain Cold" or "Mr. Freeze", please check out the superb material of Monsieur Minard:

In plain English, the bulk of the Napoleonic casualties happened during the summer of 1812, not so much the cold autumn (by winter proper they were already out).

What was so absurdly carried to the carnage of Borodino/ Moskova was just like a third of the original proud Grande Armée (and an utterly shaken third, for that matter).

Hint: amazing as it may sound, such portentous decimation of the most powerful army of the era under one of the brightests military geniuses ever was hardly just any coincidence.

Au contraire, it was the predictable result of the carefully planned and brilliantly performed Russian Fabian strategy in general and especially their scorched earth tactics in particular.

Several Russian commanders were directly responsible, even if ostensibly not so much the Tsar Aleksndr I himself.

In plain English, the bulk of the Napoleonic casualties happened during the summer of 1812, not so much the cold autumn (by winter proper they were already out).

What was so absurdly carried to the carnage of Borodino/ Moskova was just like a third of the original proud Grande Armée (and an utterly shaken third, for that matter).

Hint: amazing as it may sound, such portentous decimation of the most powerful army of the era under one of the brightests military genuses ever was hardly just any coincidence.

Au contraire, it was the predictable result of the carefully planned and brilliantly performed Russian Fabian strategy in general and especially their scorched earth tactics in particular.

Several Russian commanders were directly responsible, even if ostensibly not so much the Tsar Aleksndr I himself.

Well, I'm not entirely certain that this post was in reply to my post, however I think that it was, sooo.

I was saying (as are you, I think) that the bulk of the Napoleonic forces casualties occured on the road TO Moscow, and prior to Borodino.

This was due PRIMARILY to exhaustion, thirst, hunger, disease (dysintery and possibly typhus), and so forth. If you are actually claiming otherwise, that is, claiming that the French casualties were due to Russian military action, then, well. there isn't really much that can be said about that, because it is just factually incorrect.

Hint: I don't consider the decemination of the Grande Armee a "coincidence". Rather, I consider it to have been a predictable consequence of what the Russians did, in response to what Napoleon was trying to do. Again, the Russians WISELY used their greatest allies.

Whether or not the Russian strategy was "brilliant", or simply "obvious", I dunno, but it certainly worked brilliantly!

Again, Kudos to the Russians in doing what they needed to do in order to win the war in 1812!


Can we get this framed and permanently pinned to all of Sylla's posts on the man? He has a tendency to forget this fact.

(I assume Sylla meant 'genius', and not the biological term 'genus'?)




Can we get this framed and permanently pinned to all of Sylla's posts on the man? He has a tendency to forget this fact.

(I assume Sylla meant 'genius', and not the biological term 'genus'?)

As anyone can easily verify, the fact that I might not be a radical blind uncritical fan of Monsieur Buonaparte doesn't even remotely imply that I may have ever ignored in any way his obvious outstanding military abilities.

That said, thanks for the tip my typo has been duly edited.


Well, I'm not entirely certain that this post was in reply to my post, however I think that it was, sooo.

I was saying (as are you, I think) that the bulk of the Napoleonic forces casualties occured on the road TO Moscow, and prior to Borodino.

This was due PRIMARILY to exhaustion, thirst, hunger, disease (dysintery and possibly typhus), and so forth. If you are actually claiming otherwise, that is, claiming that the French casualties were due to Russian military action, then, well. there isn't really much that can be said about that, because it is just factually incorrect.

Hint: I don't consider the decemination of the Grande Armee a "coincidence". Rather, I consider it to have been a predictable consequence of what the Russians did, in response to what Napoleon was trying to do. Again, the Russians WISELY used their greatest allies.

Whether or not the Russian strategy was "brilliant", or simply "obvious", I dunno, but it certainly worked brilliantly!

Again, Kudos to the Russians in doing what they needed to do in order to win the war in 1812!


Actually, Borodino / Moskova was a major and potentially lethal mistake from the Tsar, who forced the wise Kutuzov & co. to transitorily abandon the brilliant Russian Fabian strategy, so impressively successful for the last three months.

Needless to say, such kind of massive annihilation battle had been exactly what Monsieur Buonaparte had been begging for from the very first moment.
It was literally the best conceivable Christmas present several months in advance from the Tsar for le Petit Caporal.

Needless to say too, the ominous fate of the already doomed Grande Armée would have still been the same without the absurd unnecessary loss of some tens of thousands of Russian lives.

For tricking Monsieur Buonapate a little more, relatively minor battles like Shevardino would have been more than enough in fact, possibly not even the latter would have been strictly required.

In a nutshell, it was a typical clumsy intervention of a militarily rookie but supreme politician ruler pretending to teach his professional commanders how to do their job.

Considering their utterly absurd superior orders and the still immense power of the decimated Grande Armée, the performance of Kutuzov, Bagration, Barclay de Tolly & co. could hardly have been any better.

After essentially the same number of casualties (even if shamelessly manipulated by the reports of both sides), the Russian commanders finally abandoned the carnage field and retreated deeper & deeper into the east.
. i.e. exactly their main strategic goal from the very first moment for several months.

In spite of the clumsy autocratic intervention and all such unnecessary waste of Russian lives, the trap as a whole continued finely working as expected.
The final results of the 1812 campaign most eloquently speak for themselves.
. and the rest is History.

Remembering the Battle of Borodino Through re-enactment

Helen Borodina

The Borodino battle is remembered every September 8th according to the governmental decree ‘On observing days of marshal glory and other memorial dates in Russia’, signed on May 13, 1995.

From Moscow re-enactment festival: ‘Times and Epochs’ to the Borodino battle field.

1812 military parade in Tverskoy boulevard, Moscow, at Times and Epochs. Photo by Lina Dee

When, this August, I arrived in Moscow after a two. moth absence, I ran into a 1812 military parade in Tverskoy Boulevard, catching the last couple days of the biggest historical reenactment festival in Russia and one of the biggest in Europe, ‘Vremena i Epochi’ (‘Times and Epochs’) that portrayed different historical periods in 30 different spots in Moscow.

The parade (performed on horses from ‘Ballada,’ a horse-riding club in Povarovo near Moscow), was a demonstration put on by re-enactment clubs from Russia and abroad that were preparing to participate in the annual Borodino battle episodes reenactment on September 2.

“Borodino is our main event,” – a re-enactor from Belarus shared with me. “It draws participants from Russia, France, Poland, Czech republic, CIS countries, and so on… We talked more, and before I left the Boulevard, he suggested, much to the joy of the children looking at his tent, armour and uniform with curiosity: “How about I sing you a song from those times?”

Picture of reenactor singing, photo by Helen Borodina

The Festival at Borodino

On September 2nd, a commuter train took me from Belorussky railway station on a flying visit to Borodino. It wasn’t my first time there I had also attended the Lubino battle re-enactments, of which I wrote upon an occasion for Moscow Expat Life (see link here). I also hope to see the battle re-enactment in Vyazma later this month.

The oldest 1812 re-enactment in Russia (over 30 years), the Borodino festival that lasts from September 1 to September 8 is held by, and on the premises of, the Borodino museum near the city of Mozhaisk, 110km to the West of Moscow. The museum is open all year round, and hosts various events, but of course the beginning of September is the highlight of the year, with its battle episode re-enactments, conferences, excursions, souvenir and food markets, and memorial ceremonies where episodes of the battle took place 206 years ago.

The central battle of the French Invasion of Russia/the Russian campaign, or, as it is called in Russia, ‘The Patriotic War 1812’, was the battle at Borodino – la bataille de la Moskowa– that took place on September 7, 1812.

On June 24th, 1812, well-armed and great in number, the French army under the command of Napoleon Bonaparte entered the Russian Empire without an official declaration of war. The Russian army under Barklay de Tolli (Barklay was born in the Baltics into a German-speaking family of a Scottish clan, but served as commander of the Russian army, until the battle of Smolensk failed), had to retreat as they had no time to prepare for battle.

Field Marshall Mikhail Kutuzov was appointed Commander in Chief of the Russian army in late August 1812. By that time, the French had suffered significant losses, lessening the difference in the two armies’ numbers and forces. Kutuzov decided to engage the French in a battle by the village of Borodino near Moscow.

Who won? Formally, the French: Napoleon took the main positions the Russian Army was defending, which caused the Russians to retreat, and later, leave Moscow. However, Napoleon didn’t fulfill his main task of crashing the Russian army. Kutuzov, in turn, failed in his main goal, which was, to save Moscow, having to choose saving Russia and the integrity of the Russian army instead…

Later Napoleon would write in his memoirs: “Of all my battles the most terrible was the one with the Russians. The French showed themselves worthy of victory, and yet, Russians claimed the right of not being defeated… Of all the fifty battles I fought in near Moscow, more courage was shown [by the French army] than elsewhere, with the least successful outcome.”

“The battle… shed more blood than our times have seen. We were in perfect command on the battlefield, and the enemy retreated then into the same position he had used when he came to attack us.”

According to historians, the numbers of dead on both sides ranked as one of the highest of all XIX century battles. According to calculations (which are, even though professional, still very approximate), at least 8,500 men were killed every hour. The French fired their canons over sixty thousand times, and shot from their guns over a million and a half times. Napoleon had good reasons to call the Borodino battle one of his greatest regardless of an outcome which was fairly poor for a military commander spoiled by victories.

After the Battle. Photo by Helen Borodina

When I was leaving the site, I approached a group of people listening to a re-enactor talk of his armour and uniform, and realised that, no matter how authentic the clothes, weapons, horse equipment and other attributes, we, the people of the XXI century, can only come so close to imagining what those battles were really like. Certainly, when the Great Patriotic war raged 206 years ago, there was no kvas or souvenirs, no snapping photos and then catching the bus, tired but happy, and even contemplating joining the re-enactment movement for the next season.

The Borodinskoye Pole (Borodino Field) museum in Borodino

University degree in Roman-Germanic philology, born in the Key-city to Moscow (more commonly known as Smolensk)… Wrote for Passport and Moscow Expat Life, and am continuing with RussiaKnowledge. Currently working as a Russian to English book translator and event interpreter, I divide my time between living in Russia and abroad, and love writing about interesting Russians living in Russia and abroad, and non-Russians living in Russia.

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