Reasons for Napoleon's Defeat
The Campaign of 1812 should have been a another crusade for Napoleon, but he now faced 2 new policies that he had never faced before, the severe Russian winter and the notorious scorched-earth policy. On June 23, 1812 Napoleon's Grande Armee, over 500,000 men strong, poured over the Russian border. An equal amount of Russian forces awaited them. The result of the campaign was a surprise. Two authors, General carl von Clausewitz and Brett James, show similarities in reasons why Napoleon had lost this campaign to Russia.
Napoleon believed that after a few quick victorious battles, he could convince Alexander to return to the Continental System. He also ...view middle of the document...
" Pg 13, 1812 Napoleon's Defeat in Russia
With his battle plan set, Napoleon prepared his troops for the attack on Russia. But, Napoleon did not consider the fierce Russian winter which awaited him. According to Ludwig Wilhelm Gottlob Schlosser, a onlooker, he described the army by saying,
" The French, down to the lowliest drummer were very fastidious. These poor French devils were not satisfied with less than soup, meat and vegetables, roast, and salad for their midday meal, and there was no sign of their famous frugality. They were completely devoid of the coming winter." pg 13, 1812 Napoleon's Defeat in Russia
Napoleon was even warned by General Rapp about the extremities of the oncoming winter in Russia.
" The natives say we shall have a severe winter," Napoleon retorted scornfully, "
Bah! You and your natives! We shall see how fine it is." pg 147, 1812 Napoleon's Defeat in Russia
Napoleon should have heeded Rapp's words. As the Grand Armee marched toward Moscow, many horses and men were lost in the freezing snow, and for those who remained, their morale and effectiveness was at the nadir.
General Clausewitz states his point by saying,
"With more precaution and better regulations as to subsistence, with more careful consideration of his marches, which would have prevented the unnecessary and enormous accumulation of masses on one and the same road, he would have preserved his army in a more effective condition." pg 255, The Campaign of 1812 in Russia
Brett James also shared the same opinion, " Napoleon appeared to have made no effort to discover the facts in Russia, or prepare his troops for it." pg 140, 1812
Napoleon's Defeat in Russia As Napoleon and his army was making their way to Moscow, they encountered typhus, colds, and dysentery. Even the mighty Napoleon had caught a mild case of the flu. However, his soldiers had received the brunt of the attack.
Captain Thomas- Joesph Aubry relives this ordeal, " After this the typhus made appalling inroads in our ranks. We were fourty-three officers in our ward. All of them died, one after the other, and delirious from this dreadful disease, most of them singing, some in Latin, others in German, others again in Italian - and singing psalms, canticles, or the mass." pg 210, 1812 Napoleon's Defeat in Russia General Clausewitz wrote, " The bad water and the air-borne insects caused dysentery, typhus, and...