DISCLOSURE: Sourced from Russian government funded media
Two hundred and ten years ago, on September 15, 1812, the French Army led by Emperor Napoleon entered the Kremlin in Moscow. In the eyes of the world, it was all over – the largest city in Russia was lying prostrate at the feet of the world’s greatest military supremo.
In three months, however, what remained of Napoleon’s army was fleeing – the corps and regiments mere shadows of their former selves. The huge forces that invaded Russia in the summer were all but destroyed by the end of the year; the exact losses are debated to this day, but the number of soldiers dead or captured is estimated to have been between 400,000 and 500,000.
Why did Napoleon lose?
The classic Western narrative is that Napoleon had to retreat because of the Russian winter, his forces beaten down by the harsh climate. The standard Russian view is that Napoleon was met by a different natural force – patriotism, which drove ordinary people to take up arms against the French invaders, complementing the efforts of the regular army. Leo Tolstoy’s account of the war contributed to this image, and it’s hard to compete with the power of his literary genius.
However, little was random or ‘natural’ in the defeat of Napoleon. First of all, it is hard to imagine that such a seasoned general had forgotten to consider the climate of the country he set out to conquer.
In fact, Napoleon had already waged winter campaigns. The Battle of Austerlitz in 1805 was lost by the Russians under colder temperatures than the Battle of Berezina – where the Russians prevailed. Meanwhile, the Battle of Eylau, which ended inconclusively for both parties, occurred during heavy snowstorms.
Jonas E. Alexis has degrees in mathematics and philosophy. He studied education at the graduate level. His main interests include U.S. foreign policy, the history of the Israel/Palestine conflict, and the history of ideas. He is the author of the new book Zionism vs. the West: How Talmudic Ideology is Undermining Western Culture. He teaches mathematics in South Korea.