WHAT HAPPENED ON - 19 October

October 19 1812 CE – Napoleon Retreats from Russia

October 19 1812 CE – Napoleon Retreats from Russia
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*Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Throughout Napoleon’s career as a general, he built a reputation for conceiving ambitious battle plans and somehow managing to pull them off, either through ingenious tactics or sheer force of will. All that came to an end on October 19, 1812. Unable to break through Russian resistance, the French Emperor turned his army to the west in hopes of retreating before winter snows trapped them, setting the stage for one of the most infamous defeats in military history.

By 1812, the French Empire had far outgrown the borders that existed when Napoleon took the reins of the army in 1796. Now in control of large swathes of modern Germany, Italy, Poland, Italy and Spain through either conquest or treaty, the short general and his troops seemed to be nearly invincible. The strength of the army seemed an incredible deterrent to conflict and a bargaining chip in the negotiation of new alliances. Thus, when word reached Napoleon that Tsar Alexander I was under pressure from the Russian nobility to abandon the agreement the two men had reached at the Congress of Erfurt, he was furious. …(Read more)

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