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Borodino Battle
October 31, 2012 09:57

Borodino Battle is known as the largest battle of the Patriotic War of 1812 between the Russian and French armies; the battle that involved 250 thousand people took place on September 7 (August 26) 1812 at the Village of Borodino, 125 km to the west of Moscow. 

On June 24, 1812 without declaration of war Napoleon's army intruded into the territory of the Russian Empire. Fast advance of the powerful French army compelled Russian command to recede far inland and deprived the commander-in-chief of Russian army general Barklai-de-Tolli of the possibility to prepare troops for battle. 
Prolonged retreat caused public discontent therefore on August 20 Emperor Alexander I signed the decree appointing Mikhail Kutuzov the commander-in-chief of the Russian forces. However, the new commander also had to recede to gain time for gathering all troops. By that time Napoleon's army had already incurred considerable losses, and the difference in force level of the two armies had reduced. Under the circumstances Kutuzov decided to hold a decisive battle near Moscow, at the village of Borodino. 
Early morning on September 7, 1812 the great Borodino Battle was started. For 6 hours Russian armies beat off fierce attacks of the enemy troops. The losses were huge for both parties over 38 thousand Russian and 58 thousand French soldiers perished. The Russian army receded but preserved fighting capacity. Napoleon failed to achieve the main goal of defeating the Russian army. Kutuzov developed a small war by forces of army guerrilla groups. 
By the end of December remains of Napoleonic army were expelled from Russia. 
The Borodino Battle was one of the bloodiest battles of the 19th century. By estimates of the cumulative losses, from 2.5 to 8.5 thousand people perished in the field each hour. Some divisions lost up to 80 percent of their structure. 
Emperor Napoleon remembered later: Of all my battles the most terrible was the one that I gave near Moscow. Frenchmen proved in it to be worthy of a victory, while Russians deserved the right to be called invincible. 

This day will be an eternal monument of courage and excellent bravery of the Russian soldiers, when all the infantry, cavalry and artillery fought desperately. Everyones desire was to die on the spot but not to yield to the enemy, Mikhail Kutuzov expressed his high appreciation of the Russian troops. In honor of the great victory the Day of Borodino Battle is celebrated as the Day of the Military Glory of Russia. 
Right after the end of the war Emperor Alexander I announced a competition for construction of Christ Saviours Cathedral in honor of the military glory. The foundation of the construction took place in 1839, under Nicholas the First. The memorial church of military glory was destroyed by explosion on December 5, 1931, and restored at the end of 1999.
Hero Towns of War of 1812
On October 24, 1812 the town became the arena of the bloody battle between Napoleon's army that tried to break through to Kaluzhskaya Road, and Russian armies under Kutuzovs command. In the course of 17-hour battle the town changed hands 8 times and as a result was almost totally destroyed.
The town of Kaluga played an important role as the largest rear base of Russian armies. Armed militia for field army was formed, fodder and food were prepared, and money was gathered here.
The town of Mozhaisk was severely ruined by Frenchmen in 1812. Borodino field - the place of the largest battle of Russian troops with Napoleon's army - is located 12 kilometers to the west of Mozhaisk. Now the Borodino military and historical memorial estate is located there.
Borodino Battle in Painting and Literature

Events of the Patriotic War of 1812 found broad reflection in literature and fine arts of the 19th-20th centuries, from the drawings made by participants of the Borodino Battle right in the course of operations to works created in the early 20th century for the 100th anniversary of the Patriotic War of 1812 and to Leo Tolstoy's illustrious novel War and Peace

The outstanding Russian painter of battle scenes Vasily Vasilyevich Vereshchagin at the end of the 19th century actively worked on a series of pictures dedicated to 1812. One of the main works of this series is the canvass Napoleon at the Borodino Heights. Works by Russian poets and writers (Mikhail Lermontov, Alexander Pushkin, Simeon Raich, Vasily Zhukovsky) wonderfully supplement painting and drawings on the Borodino Battle.

A lot of films have been dedicated to the Borodino Battle, including Sergey Bondarchuk's world-known screen version of War and Peace (1967) and the comedy Hussar Ballad (1962) by Eldar Ryazanov.

Author: Vera Ivanova

Tags: Mikhail Kutuzov Borodino Battle Borodino   

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