The retreat of the French army. Vyazemskoye fight on October 22 (November 3), 1812

The retreat of the French army.  Vyazemskoye battle on October 22 (November 3), 1812

After a stubborn fight Maloyaroslavets — 12 (24) October 1812, Napoleon and his generals decided to retreat along the Smolensk road, that road, on which the French army was advancing on Moscow. From waste through Medyn Yelnya and had to abandon because of Poniatowski came the news that he could not get out to Medyn. Platov's Cossacks, who followed the way of Kremenskov on Medyn, stormed the vanguard of the housing Poniatowski and forced him to withdraw. Poniatowski led troops from Kremenskov. After making sure that the road is busy Kremenskaya Russian troops, the French government gave the order to leave the Smolensk road. He pinned his hopes to break away from the army Misha Kutuzov.

The Russian army at that time occupied the position of the south Maloiaroslavets, and Kutuzov was ready to accept a new battle, if the enemy will try again to get through to Kaluga. Waiting for the French army was seen as Kutuzov French zeal to make a new maneuver. Acquired from Platov news of the enemy in the event of Medyn confirmed the possibility of outflanking maneuver Napoleon. Commander ordered Platov strengthen supervision and sent him to substantiate the 26th Division Paskevich. Platov and Paskevich got a puzzle to become stronger on the road leading from Medyn to Kaluga and keep a credible attempt to break.

Night 15 (27), Kutuzov became clear that the enemy retreated. Soon came from Platov and information about how the French convoys go through Mozhaisk continue to Smolensk. The situation is quite clear. Napoleon wanted to break away from the spirited march of the Russian army, go kaput edge and overwinter in Lithuania, so in 1813 to continue the war.

The retreat of the French army and the coming of Kutuzov's army

The French army first way yet become a formidable force, especially at the beginning of Napoleon and his brilliant galaxy of generals. Under the supervision of the governor was about 250 thousand fighter. Summary army, going to Smolensk, had in its composition of about 110 thousand people, the 9th Reserve Corps Victor 25 thousand people, Saint-Cyr and Dombrowski had about 30 thousand fighter (in strips of Polotsk — Bobruisk), 10 Corps at the Macdonald Riga totaled 35 thousand people, and Schwarzenberg and Rainier in Brest — 50 thousand people. In addition, Napoleon had a huge advantage in that the operating bands have been established, and it was possible to transfer from Europe to great new connections. When prosperous withdrawal main army, Napoleon could make an army of troops from Europe and to continue the war in 1813, focusing on Poland.

After the withdrawal of the French army and the retreat of troops Maloiaroslavets St. Cyr from Polotsk, the overall situation was compounded by the French. There was a danger of Russian troops on the main communication environment and the main army. Shells on the flanks, which provided the basis longish operating band, acted passively, and worse, the pressure began to withdraw Russian troops. This forced Napoleon to speed up the movement, which was very hard to do, because of the small number of horses and carts overloaded good loot. As a result, even the artillery and baggage trains staff in such a situation where it was necessary to gain time and space to maneuver, have become a burden.

The retreat of the French army was on the same road, because the army stretched out on a significant distance. At the forefront was Poniatowski and Murat with the cavalry, in the head of the column came Guard, followed by the 3rd, 8th, 4th Corps Ney, Junot and Eugène de Beauharnais. Bringing up the rear retained the greatest fighting ability (of course, not counting the Guards units) 1st Davout. Because of the shortcomings of the side rear guard of cavalry to push failed. The cavalry had only vanguard and rear guard for the main part.

From waste to the west Napoleon's army had food supplies for 20 days. In addition, Napoleon gave the order to advance from Vilna to meet the army moving shops. In Mozhaisk convoy arrived with a 3-day with supplies of rice. As a result, the first step of the army was supplied with food. Napoleon was confident in the success of the operation, a number of his army was not inferior forces Kutuzov and kept fighting capacity.

Mikhail Kutuzov, after fights under Tarutine and Maloyaroslavets, had about 110 thousand people. In addition, Wittgenstein was 35-40 thousand fighter (with the arrival of the Finnish housing Steingel — up to 50 thousand), in the army Chichagova — 35 thousand, Osten-Sacken and Ertel had 40-45 thousand infantry and cavalry. Militias at the time were already part of the army or remained on the borders of their own provinces. Before Kutuzov had two main objectives: to disrupt a measured withdrawal of French army, bleed it, and provide access to the rear of the retreating army of Napoleon's armies and Wittgenstein Chichagova for a decisive battle to defeat the enemy.

Kutuzov sent vosled opponent Platov's Cossacks and the 26th Division. Smolensk road going north squad Paul Kutuzov (he changed FF Wintzingerode after his capture). To the south of the Smolensk road followed the vanguard Miloradovicha. He moved through Borovsk Egorevsk, cover and continue to Spassky and Fyodorovskoye in the direction Viaz'ma. Next to the troops acted Miloradovich Orlov-Denisov and Ozharovski. The main forces were moving through Medyn Kutuzov, Kremenskov, puny strength. This road is allowed to go to Viazma almost immediately with the French army. The guerrilla army troops were ordered to act in the area between Borodino and Viaz'ma. So Makarov, the Russian army was advancing on a front of 60-70 km. Kutuzov put the puzzle to attack not only on the rear and flanks of the hostile army, and on her head.

9 (21) October Kutuzov Lansky gave the order to provide the troops with supplies 10-day provisions. Gouveia quartermaster-general was ordered to provide the horse of the army 3 day of supplies of hay. Perform this instruction was easy, because the Kaluga warehouses were still at hand. In addition, crackers put Tula Province. In the coming troops planned to stuff the mobile shops. Already in the process of coming revealed that mobile shopping is not keeping pace with the rapidly moving army. Commander had to give the order to requisition food and livestock from the local population, with the issuance of receipts. In relation ammunition shortcomings and was not felt, Kaluga base to provide one hundred percent of the army bullets and shells.

The tense situation in the supply of the army of winter clothes. Harvested boots and coats do not have time to bring in the army prior to its movement. In the rear felt a supply shortage. The situation was more complex in the area of medical software. After all regimental battle Tarutino pharmacies were sent to Kaluga. There were made pervolineynye temporary hospitals for the transfer of the wounded in the stationary hospitals. Movable hospitals have had to move the army of 25-30 km, and get fixed at 100-150 km. These activities have provided the rear for the first time.

17 (29), Platov's Cossacks found the French, who were coming from Borovska to Veree. By order of the Chief Platov sent five regiments under the Karpov to Miloradovich, and he continued on to Mozhaysk. October 19 (November 1) body Platov went to Kolotsky stormed the monastery and with 2 teams in the rearguard of the enemy flank. The French tried to hold the position, but were s
hot down, two infantry battalions were defeated, the Cossacks seized 20 guns. October 18 Cossacks stormed Davout at Gjatsk. The enemy after a 2-hour battle retreated. Troop Orlov-Denisov (1 and 5 of the Cossack Regiment of Dragoons), went into the flank of the French army between Gzhatsk and Viaz'ma and stormed the enemy marching order.

Avangard Miloradovicha 15 (27), went to Afanasyev and moved on Medyn. October 16 Miloradovich teamed up with a group in Medyn Orlov-Denisov went to Golovin, Shahs, cover and continue to Spassky. The main army made with 2 columns of Detchino and a linen factory on the night of 15 (27) 16 (28) of October. October 19th army was moving Silenkov continue to Bykov.

Quest for Viazma

Napoleon was 16 (28) October in the Dormition and gave some orders. He gave the instruction to kill all the Russian prisoners of war who were with the army. He ordered the governor of Smolensk General Charpentier cook food supplies for the coming of the army and gave an indication of the concentration of Vilna provisions. 19 (31) Oct most of Napoleon's army was already in Viazma, which made up for the supplies of provisions. After receiving the news of the departure of buildings Schwarzenberg and Reynier, the misfortune St. Cyr of Polotsk and advancing armies Chichagova and Wittgenstein French governor gave the order to continue moving double-quick. October 20th Guards Corps and Junot occupied Semlevo, housing and Poniatowski Beauharnais placed at the village Fedorovsk, Davout moved to Tsarev-floodplains. In Viazma body was left Ney.

October 21 the Russian army arrived in Dubrovnaya, which was 27 miles from the Viaz'ma where Miloradovich already tied up a fight with the enemy. Miloradovich with 17.5 million people (2nd and 4th Infantry, 2nd and 4th Cavalry Corps) came from the south to the village of Maximova, which was located 3-4 km south-west of Fedorovsk. Immediately poruha on passing by the superior forces of the enemy (the body Poniatowski, Beauharnais and Davoust), he did not dare. Miloradovich missed the housing Poniatowski and the viceroy of Italy, that storm and cut off the 1st Corps Davoust. Kutuzov sent to the aid Miloradovich 2 cuirassier division, Tula Cossack Guards Regiment and two horse batteries. Immediately Cossack Corps Gen. MI Platov, reinforced 26th Infantry Division (3 thousand Cossacks and four thousand infantry), led the prosecution case Dawa front.

At dawn on October 22 troops Miloradovicha with 3 columns began to go to the Smolensk road. Miloradovich deployed along the path two cavalry corps (Korf and Vasilchikova), 5 Cossack cavalry regiments and three batteries, and decided to storm, without waiting for the infantry. The move started Kiev and Akhtyrsky cavalry regiments, they cut the team Nagel and actually killed her. Dragoons took Smolensk road, Davout (13 thousand people) was almost surrounded. At this time, Platov kicked the French out of Fedorovsk. Hearing the sounds of battle, the fee increased the pressure on the French side Fedorovsk. Davoust was not taken aback by using the fact that the road blocked the only cavalry troops arrayed in a square and started to attack. The first time the French had success and pushed the Russian cavalry. But at this time the bout went to the place of the 17th Division Olsufyeva, which bypassed the position Davoust from the right. Right behind her in battle and came 26th Infantry Division Paskevich, and attacked the left flank of the enemy.

Housing Davoust was dire, almost on the verge of defeat. His body helped the Italian Viceroy (12 thousand), and Poniatowski (3.5 million), which received the report of his Dawa criticality of the situation, the troops turned to the east. Their assistance helped out Davout from total defeat. As a result, Miloradovich was required to take the fight with 3 enemy buildings. Despite the superiority of the enemy, Miloradovich not back down. Russian batteries increased fire, counter-Dawa was recorded. After that, the attack went 4-th, 17 th and 26 th Infantry Division and part of the cavalry. Infantry of the 4th Corps Miloradovich Rzhavets advanced to the village to be able to reflect the impact of the housing Ney (6 million people) of Viaz'ma that hung over the Russian left flank.

4th Army Corps Beauharnais not resist the attack of the Russian infantry and retreated in the direction of Rzhavets and then Viaz'ma. It was followed by the Poles Poniatowski. Davoust throwing artillery and baggage, began to break along the river Chernogryaze. Miloradovich inflicted on the enemy one more hit and threw him to the Viazma. Marshal Ney was unable to provide assistance to other corps, because I was distracted by Uvarov's cavalry, which took up positions near the village of Krapivna and began shelling the French positions.

Ney, Davoust, Eugene de Beauharnais and Poniatowski had a military conference and decided to delay the Vyasma (for them to be together 37 thousand). French troops took up positions on the heights and opened artillery fire. But they could not hold the position. Miloradovich launched an attack on the front. On the right flank troops acted Figner, Seslavin and Platov's Cossacks, on the left — Uvarov's cavalry. French shot down, and they moved into the city, trying to fight back from houses and palisades. But here, they could not resist. About 16 hours in the city made it to the Russian infantry. The threat of a complete environment led them to begin a retreat towards Dorogobuzh. Departing, the French tried to burn down the city, and ammunition depots. By the end of the day or most of the French troops left Vyasma, the remains were knocked out by Russian soldiers. The French fled to Semlevo, destroying a bridge across the river Vyasma. The Russian cavalry continued to pursue the enemy. Only the night suspended pursuit of the enemy.

The retreat of the French army.  Vyazemskoye battle on October 22 (November 3), 1812

Results and significance

It was a complete victory. Emperor Alexander Kutuzov said that the Russian army has lost in this battle 800 men killed and one thousand wounded. The losses of the enemy were 7 thousand dead and more than two thousand prisoners. French military historian Chambray estimated loss of Napoleon's army in 4 thousand dead and wounded, and three thousand prisoners. The main significance of this victory was not tyschah killed or captured enemies, and in the psychological impact that has made the fight for the French fighter. Best marshals were defeated Napoleon defeated Davout, who was listed as the most militant in the army. The morale of other French units fell sharply. From now on tactical retreat turned into a disaster. As he wrote Ermoloff: "In Viazma the last time we beheld the enemy troops, their victories inspires nightmare everywhere and within us reverence. Yet we beheld their art generals obedience of subordinates and their latest effort. On another day does not have any units to nothing and served as an expert art generals lost obedience fighter refused to force them … ". Marshal Ney wrote to the Head Chief of Staff of the French Army Berthier: "… only one Italian royal guard was still in good order, and the others fell iznemozhen spirit of lethargy. Lots of people wandering alone in a terrible mess and mostly without arms … ". Real Vyazma significantly worsened strategic position of Napoleon's army. If the French government previously considered the possibility of counter-attack on the army of Kutuzov, after receiving reports of Viaz'ma surrender and defeat of the 1st Army Corps refused to do this.

October 24 (November 5) troops Napoleon
placed followed by: Ancient Guard in Dorogobuzh, Young Guard, 8th building — between Dorogobuzh and Usvyat, 1st, 4th and 5th Corps — between Slavkov and Dorogobuzh, 3rd Corps — was Semlevo. Napoleon sent the 4th corps de Beauharnais on the side of the road, planning to clarify the situation after th e bring to Vitebsk to connect to hulls Victor (2nd and 9th). With him was oriented heavy baggage of the army. October 28 (November 9), the main forces of the French army went to Smolensk.

The retreat of the French army.  Vyazemskoye battle on October 22 (November 3), 1812

The retreating French troops under Viaz'ma. Chromolithography Adam.

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