Russian Campaign

How the Russian campaign helped lead to Napoleon's downfall

HideShow resource information

Why Did Napoleon invade Russia

1809- The Russians gave limited support to Napoleon in the Austrian War, and so Napoelon was angry.

The Russians had rejected Napoleon's proposal to marry the 15 year old Grand Duchess Anne

Most important factor- Russia had relaxed the Continental trading system with Britian and Napoleon wished to consolidate his blockade plan.

Napoleon wanted to bring another monarch to 'heel'

1 of 5


Napoleon ignored advice from many sources about the dangers of invasion.

He then fatally abandon original plan of a limited attack, in favour of occupation of Moscow and got sucked in

Napoleon took a huge army of 600,000 men, a number he could not mobalise quickly and combined with the poor roads- couldnt pin down Russians.

They were faced with extreme heat in the summer and constant rain in the autumn-low morale.

Supply lines were too basic and due to large numbers, they couldnt supply the French army.

2 of 5

Russian Tactics

The two main Russian armies both reatreated before Napoleon reached them as they were not able to fight them- Napoleon was drawn into Russia.

This defeated Napoleon's quick victory that was planned as they refused to fight Napoleon.

Russian Army were fighting for 'Mother Russia'- a cause for the fighting. Napoleon's army were demotivated as half were not French.

Napoleon was poor at delegation and splitting the army up.

Forced Napoleon to retreat along lines they came from and had burned all crops etc and so had a huge loss of men

River Beresina- had fewer than 50,000 men left and the panic of Russians arriving caused thousands to drown in the river- those who made it got to the safeish area of Grand Duchy of Warsaw (Poland)

3 of 5

Criticisms of Napoleon Military Tactics

Too big an army and Napoleon was poor at delegation- only small proportion of army were skilled and experianced.

Napoleon wanted short campaign with one decisive battle against Russians by manouvre and marches- Russians werent prepared so retreated and Napoleon got drawn into Russia.

Drawn to Moscow (tradtional capital) Tsar demanded battle take place outside Moscow- Borodine was a pyhrric vitctory for French- Moscow went up in flames.

This meant Napoleon couldnt stay here for the winter- so retreated along the SAME lines due to poor information.

Napoleon thought if he waited at Moscow Russians would surrender and Tsar would sign an agreement but Russians did niether- Napoleon retreated.

When got to River Beresina- ony had 50,000 men left, thousands drowned in the river but those that made it accross got the Grand Duchy of Warsaw (Poland)

4 of 5

Allies swap sides

Prussia was first to go, although King of Prussia not keen but was forced by General Yorck who was leading army- early 1813

Sweden- led by former French Marshall Bernadotte formed coalition against Napoleon as was now committed to his new country.

Austria- most reluctant to desert Napoleon as was worried about Russian impact on Europe but after Metternich offering peace terms twice and Napoleon rejecting them, they swapped sides.

Russian campaign shows that Napoleon had no negotiation skills and this is what led to his failure.

5 of 5


No comments have yet been made

Similar History resources:

See all History resources »See all Russia - 19th and 20th century resources »