After the defeat and heavy losses on the River Berezina, Napoleon Bonaparte was able to not be afraid of the environment and the complete defeat. He even planned to gain a foothold in Vilna, to collect the remains of the "Great Army", the forces of the left and right hand side, to get reinforcements from Western Europe, and in 1813 to continue the Russian campaign. Napoleon had in this theater of operations rather significant forces: the body MacDonald, Rainier and Schwarzenberg gave him 70 thousand soldier, part of the 11th Augerau spare case with the new Polish formations — up to 38 thousand people from Napoleon himself was to 45 th fighter (9 th he brought to Vilna, and up to 36 thousand were left behind).
Of these troops could be completely, having at this time, to form a strong and large army capable to fight defensive actions. French governor was perfectly furnished rear. Large stores were in Vilna, Kovno and strip of the river Vistula. Arsenals in Vilna, Grodno and elsewhere could provide an instrument and ammunition 80-100 thousand. As a result, it was possible to organize and arm the crowd of unarmed and demoralized fighter who can go to the right Preserving the Berezina. According to the Lithuanian governor general Gogendorpa in Vilna was the supplies of provisions for three months, enough for 100 million people in warehouses kept a significant amount of weapons, clothes.
The forces of the Russian army and plans Command
The Russian had a major army Kutuzov 51.5 thousand people, the army Chichagova — 24.4 thousand people, and the army of Wittgenstein — about 34 thousand people in the housing Saken — up to 30 thousand people, and in the case Tuchkova (replaced Ertel) — 15 thousand people. So Makarov, Russian troops had overwhelming advantages over the French. In addition, it should be noted that the size of the army declined every day — people were getting sick, because were not supplied with a sufficient amount of warm clothes. However, now Russian forces were focused into a single cam and be oriented in any direction. It was saying that the war is not over and will face an uphill battle in Europe. Commander stated: "I wish that Europe beheld that the existence of the main army is reality, not a ghost or a shadow. Although the army and weakened from the campaign, but a month of good-quality holiday apartments to restore it. Only a powerful army can bank the balance and force Germany to venture to our side. "
The output of the Russian army to the western borders of the empire created a new political power already. It becomes possible to negotiate with Poland, Austria and Prussia, putting their military-political pressure. Kutuzov saw fit to incline to the side of the Russian Federation Austria and Prussia. In particular the high hopes pinned on Prussia, which has had a shame the French occupation. But first it was necessary to solve the problem of crowding out the enemy from Lithuania.
At a council of war it was decided that the troops Chichagova and Wittgenstein will pursue the enemy, because their army is not as exhausted as the main army, which has made nearly 800-mile march to battle. Admiral Chichagov instructed to pursue the French "tag along." Wittgenstein's army had to go puzzle on the right, so as not to allow the connection with Napoleon's Prussian corps McDonald. Platov's Cossacks charged the enemy, and catch up on his assault on the head and on the flanks, on the way to destroy all the French crossing, supplies of food and weapons. The case was Saken puzzle to prevent movement of the Austrian army Schwarzenberg Vilna. The main army was after crossing the Berezina go to Smolevichy, Olshany and Troki. To the south of Kutuzov's army as a flanking the vanguard detachment was Ozharovski. Davydova and Seslavin troops were ordered to capture the Kovno, thence destroying enemy supplies. The reserve was housing Tuchkova, who was ordered to move closer to Chichagov. In addition, for the rear, the commander gave the order to pull the theater of war has shown himself perfectly in the war militia. Vladimir and Nizhny Novgorod militia at that time housed in Vladimir and Moscow, Smolensk — in the province of Smolensk, Ryazan — in the province of Ryazan, Tula — in Minsk, Poltava and Chernihiv — in the Volyn region, capital, St. Petersburg and Novgorod operated as part of the army. November 19 this plan was presented to Emperor Alexander Pavlovich.
In the case of a compound of Napoleon with his flank corps Kutuzov ordered Chichagov the brakes in Ashmyany, await the arrival of the little town Slabodka Wittgenstein and the Main Army to Olshanam. Then all three armies could make offensive conduct.
Acts of Napoleon's troops. Napoleon planned, breaking away from the persecution of the Russian troops, stop the movement and position of a rest. He ordered the commander of the 6th Corps (Bavarian) Wrede exit Dokshitsy Vileika and to ensure the crossing and prepare purveyance in Smorgon and Ashmyany. But the damage is not able to fulfill these instructions, because its body has not recovered from previous injuries and had less than a third of the initial composition, many soldiers and officers fled or defected to the Russian side. Napoleon did not say MacDonald and Schwarzenberg gave to act independently of events. As a result, McDonald remained in Riga until December 19, starting retreat when the remains of Napoleon's army had already left Russia. Schwarzenberg, in the middle of December retreated to the Duchy of Warsaw.
In the 20 days of November, hit hard frost. The column index of temperature plunged below 21 degrees, reaching a certain night to £ 30. A huge number of stragglers fighter Napoleon just froze. Denis Davydov remembered about the road to Vilna: "A lot of the wounded were lying on the snow enemies either by hiding in vehicles, waiting for the death of an act of cold and hunger … my sled hit it head, hands and feet are frozen or nearly freezing, it lasted throughout the motion from our Ponar to Vilna. " Russia's army also seemed worn during a 12-day march from the Berezina to Vilna, but it was a bit far better equipped, had the opportunity to stay longer in the villages Fri and evacuate the wounded, sick and frostbitten. The French did not have the ability to stay in populated Fri, evacuate the wounded and patients. The constant danger of attack by Russian cavalry and Cossacks, did not give the ability to organize a regular night's rest. As a result, cold and starvation killed more people than bullets and bayonets. The situation was such severe that the next "obscheevropeytsy," repeated the horrible experience of their own Polish comrades, who, during the siege of the Kremlin began to eat each other (during the Time of Troubles). There were cases when the French eat their own dead comrades. The fighters disintegrated to such an extent that it did not disdain to rob a feeble and frightened colleagues. Thus, according to the memoirs of the commander of cavalry regiment of Chasseurs of the 2nd Corps of Baron Marbo, Poles invented the subsequent trick — they went NIGHT MODE on the road, where camped retreating French, and made a clique of "Hurrah!". The French are in a panic that the attack of the Cossacks, fled, throwing more remaining property, food. Another phenomenon during the retreat, were constant suicide. Desperate men and even officers and committed suicide.
Most of the parts turned i
nto a faceless mass, where it was not clear where the officers and soldiers. On the face of it were thousands of poor, dressed in dirty rags. Many had frostbitten hands, feet, ears, noses. The main value was the food and vodka, when a piece of dry bread and a few potatoes, were valued higher than silver and gold. People were throwing weapon, so it was easier to walk. Mounts, caring only about to leave as soon as possible, pressed on the way the wounded and feeble. A huge number of people were killed in a stampede at the crossing of the river and marsh. Almost all were suffering various diseases, colds, dysentery. Doctors were not enough, well, there was no pharmaceuticals. People were required to survive, human concepts have been forgotten. Still alive are robbed of half-dead, killed for a piece of bread, burning houses, so warm. Resist had neither the strength nor the will, people could only escape. The emergence of the Cossacks or farmers dubem evoked in the former fighter panic.
Night Bivouac "Grand Army." Hood. VV Vereshchagin, approx. 1896
Russian pursuit of the enemy troops
18 (30), the vanguard of the army under General Chichagova Chaplitsa struck on 9 Corps Victor, who was the rearguard of the French army. Russian fighters overtook the French at Zembin. Were captured and 400 prisoners and seven guns. The next day the vanguard Chaplitsa with Platov's Cossacks again stormed the French rearguard at Pleschinitsy. Pushed out of the enemy and chased to Pleschinitsy Hotavich, capturing up to 1.4 thousand prisoners and 6 guns. 20-21 November (December 2-3), Russian forces continued to pursue the enemy, was captured up to 1.9 thousand prisoners, two standards, and 10 guns.
After crossing Wittgenstein Napoleon sent a detachment Golenisheva-Kutuzov to Lepel for action on the flank of the enemy forces and surveillance Wrede, who stood at Dokshitsy. When it was found that the Bavarians are going to Vileika, Golenischev-Kutuzov sent a detachment of Colonel Dolginov Tetenborna to prevent the body-Wrede, with the main forces of Napoleon. November 20 (December 2) Tetenborn caught and defeated at Dolginov rearguard corps Wrede, was captured 700 prisoners. Housing Wrede did not represent a combat unit.
November 22 (December 4) Napoleon arrived in Benicia, and on the subsequent day in Brampton. Victor rearguard was again overturned Chaplitsa and Platov to Maladzechna, losing 500 prisoners and 8 guns. The French had broken bridges on the river Ushitza and tried to stop the coming of the Russian troops. At this time, the forces Chaplitsa and Platov were supported by a detachment of the main forces and Ermolova Chichagova. On the night of 22 to 23 November (December 4-5), our troops found the dam three miles below MOLODECHNO. Was induced crossing and 4:00 am Russian cavalry, crossing the river, cut off part of the French rearguard and took Maladzechna. By dawn, were bridged with Maladzechna and across the river crossed the main force Chichagova. The enemy does not actually defended himself, the French surrendered and fled the masses. Only prisoners took up to 2.5 million people, seized 24 guns. As a result, only 5 days in the French army lost more than 12 thousand people and 127 guns. It was a rout.
Departure of Napoleon's army
The French army was divided into two columns and randomly went to Vilna. Napoleon was at first with his troops, but when made sure that his hopes to return order to the decayed parts of the army in vain, I decided to go to Paris. He wanted to create in Europe a new army. Before leaving Napoleon — November 21 (December 3) issued the 29th ballot, in which quite frankly laid out the plight of the army (in the bulletins of early defeats and victories woes were called and maneuvers). Napoleon reported on the frosts of the fall of morale, loss of cavalry and artillery horses, respectively, cavalry and artillery, transports. Army recognized as unfit for action. November 22, Napoleon ordered the division Loison (from the housing Augerau) to make towards the army from Vilna to Oszmiana, not counting the separate units stationed in Medniki and Smorgon. So Makar, the French government has provided for himself the way to Vilna.
November 23 (December 5), Napoleon moved to Brampton and assembled a council of war. He said the marshals about his intention to go to Paris. According to the governor, under the present state of things, just out of the palace of the Tuileries he could command respect throughout Europe. As he left the governor's own king of the kingdom of Naples, Joachim Murat. In his closing speech, he said that leaves them in order to lead three thousand fighter. "We need to be in a position so that we can conduct the second campaign as the first war did not end a campaign." In the middle of the circumstances of the defeat in the first campaign, Napoleon referred to the burning of Moscow, frost, intrigue and mistakes can be treason (an allusion to the actions of Schwarzenberg). Murat received annotation, in which he was ordered to collect the remains of the army in Vilna, the brakes in this town for the winter and keep the defense. The Austrians had to cover up Grodno, Brest and Warsaw. All Others troops had to stay in Vilna and Kovno. The main task of the army — to stop the Russian offensive. In case of trouble, the right wing was to cover up the Duchy of Warsaw, and the left to defend the line of the river Neman. All the stores in trouble, it was planned to take out beyond the Niemen. In addition, ordered to fill warehouses in Konigsberg, Danzig, Warsaw and Thorn. Murat had the opportunity to act in accordance with the incidents. Napoleon gave an indication to form a militia in Kovno, Lithuania, 5th Corps return Poniatowski in Warsaw, 6th Corps in Grodno, 8th Corps in Olita. Diplomatic corps was ordered to move from Vilna to Warsaw, the wounded generals and officers had to evacuate to Konigsberg and Warsaw. Treasury also ordered the army to be transported to Warsaw and Konigsberg.
According to these instructions and the instructions are endowed with Napoleon that the coming of the Russian army will be suspended for the band Niemen and the Duchy of Warsaw. During this time he wanted to raise an army and the latest spring and summer of 1813 to begin the second Russian campaign. In general, his departure was appropriate from a military and strategic point of view. The remains of the "Great Army" lost the combat effectiveness and continued to disintegrate. It was necessary to create the newest army to continue the war with Russia, to retain the gains in Europe, to take in hand, as appropriate, Austria and Prussia. Also required to establish order in France itself, where there were unsafe processes. Though of course, that for ordinary soldiers and officers such departure was looked disgusting. It was like an escape, the governor threw the army. Although it was not the first time before Napoleon left the army in Egypt.
On the same day, when the military council was assembled and given final instructions, Napoleon left, accompanied by Caulaincourt, Chief Marshal Duroc, the Adjutant General Mouton, a cavalry guard. Napoleon wanted to travel incognito Germany — under the name of Baron Vichentsskogo (Caulaincourt). I must say that at this point the French governor of life was under threat, not only by the Russian troops. In a day out of the army of Napoleon — November 23 (December 5) division Loison came to Oszmiana. On the same day the city burst into a detachment of Colon
el Seslavin, but it replaced. Napoleon promptly passed Oshmjany making a stopover for a change of horses. If Seslavin knew about the movement of Napoleon, he could catch it, because was located just 5-6 miles away from the main road. In addition, there was a danger on the part of the division Loison composed of Italians and fighter Confederation of the Rhine. They were angry and unhappy with loss of French domination. The division made Vilna with about 10 thousand fighter and came to Oszmiana sending in their own ranks than 3 million people (almost all Italians killed). In the middle of the officers appeared komplot supposed with their units break into the house where Napoleon is located and kill all those who will resist. German troops could then go to the Russian side. But while the German officers were arguing, debating who should lead the fighter and take on the responsibility for this treacherous act, Napoleon left.
Napoleon arrived in Vilna, November 24 (December 6). Napoleon traveled around the city suburbs, stopping on the road in the direction of Kovno, without becoming a meeting with the local authorities. In Vilna, Napoleon gave final instructions. In an interview with the French minister of foreign affairs Mare, he admitted that the army turned into "shapeless crowd" who wander, looking for food and shelter. Mara told Napoleon that the warehouses in Vilnius has a 40-day food supplies in store for 100 thousand army, not counting the expected new supply. Also in town and counties have cattle for 36 days to 100 thousand people, there are huge supplies of beer and vodka. At Vilna warehouses had 30 thousand pairs of shoes, 27 thousand guns and plenty of ammunition. Napoleon was delighted by the news, and gave an indication Mare remain until the arrival of Murat, who gave the order to stay in Vilnius at least a week to lead the army in relative order. For the defense of the Duchy of Warsaw was focused Lauriston, in Danzig — Rapp. After a conversation with the head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Napoleon went to Kovno and moved the Russian border in the morning on November 26 (December 8).
After a day or two Napoleon arrived in Warsaw. There he met with the French ambassador in Warsaw Duchy Pradtom, head of the Council of Ministers Potocki, the Minister Matushevichi money and a few senior bureaucrats. French government said the loss of the cavalry, artillery, supply wagons, killing frost for Europeans (typical French could wage war at least 7 degrees of frost, and the Germans — 5 degrees). In his view, it was a mistake to stay in Moscow for two weeks unnecessary. Lamented that he had, "asserting that the nobles will accept my party that farmers will come running to me to get out of slavery." All this was a fraud, farmers were correct sir, are full of zeal and nobles. "It's gone wild superstitious people, from which nothing can be done", highlighted the French ruler.
He suggested that the Poles themselves contribute to the restoration of their own country, to form a new part, especially light cavalry (collect 10 thousand "Cossacks"). He promised that if the world is not concluded between France and Russia, to return in the spring with a modern army and protect the Duchy of Warsaw. Expressed the hope that Austria and Prussia will be on his side. After resting for a few hours, Napoleon went on his way, and on the night of 7 (19) December arrived in the French capital.
The French army in Vilnius
The chief of staff Berthier was ordered to give orders to the army commander in chief of the purpose of Murat and hearing of the motion to dismiss the French governor with the Austrian-Saxon troops in Warsaw. The departure of Napoleon in Paris said the troops were instructed not earlier than 5-6 days. But the departure of the ruler, which was the last army of the fastening thread, long remained a mystery. The soldiers angry last plagues, cursing Napoleon shouted: "… he runs, he fled from Egypt, he leaves us, utterly ruin." The news of the departure of the ruler was the signal for the general flight to Vilnius. The Governor-General Gogendorp, the only one left to meet the troops, reported that in no time escaped Baron Bassano with its own Office, all the foreign commissioners, members of the interim government, all provincial government, the mayor, most of the members of the city government.
The troops no longer willing to obey orders. Everyone was eager to quickly get to Vilna, where they were promised bread, warmth and rest. Only a few of the profits November 26 (December in the city in relative order. Behind them came wrapped in chaos 20 thousand weight, does not recognize the authority of commanders and cursed his own former idol. The townspeople were shocked look and the feel of the former "Grand Army", which they have relatively recently beheld completely different, brilliant and victorious.
To be continued …