Thursday, August 30, 2012

Road to Borodino IV : Advance!

Napoleon Bonaparte
Napoleon finally made up his mind on August 24, and the following day the Grande Armee resumed its eastward march, although conditions in its rear remained extremely confused and there was even greater shortage of supplies.  The corps moved in three parallel columns within easy marching distance of each other, for Napoleon anticipated that the Russians would stand and fight in the near future now that Kutusov was reported to be on his way to assume control of the Russian forces.  The central column followed the main post road from Smolensk toward Moscow, led by Murat's over employed and rapidly tiring cavalry, with the Guard, the Ist and IIIrd Corps in support.  On the left marched Viceroy Eugene; on the right, Prince Poniatowski.  All in all, some 124,000 infantry, 32,000 horsemen and 587 guns were on the move.

Marshal Davout
There was little overt opposition; several cavalry skirmishes and other alarms took place, and Murat and Davout chose this inopportune time to fall out seriously with one another over the former's misuse of the mounted arm, but otherwise it was generally the old story of blazing towns and villages, spoiled crops and hovering Cossacks.  Severe rainstorms proved more troublesome than Russian bullets, and on August 30 Napoleon announced that unless the weather improved within the next 24 hours he was going to order a withdrawal to Smolensk.  However, the31st dawned clear and sunny, and so the advance went on.  On September 1, headquarters were at Gzhatsk; three days later Gridnevo was reached; and in the afternoon of the 5th, the French army halted within striking distance of the village of Borodino.  Across the plain could be seen, at long last, the dark masses of the armies of Muscovy, halted and evidently preparing for battle, digging like moles to throw up field fortifications, as was their wont before action.

~ D. Chandler, The Campaigns of Napoleon, p. 794

2 comments:

James Fisher, FINS said...

Thanks for posting this 'diary' of the campaign Murdock, great stuff. Less than a week to Borodino 200!

MurdocK said...

Yes I decided to post much of it in the lead up - especially the parts about the near-misses and this latest one where Bonaparte very nearly called it all off due to weather ...

Gonna do some tabletop actions now and watch the other Borodino blogs out there.

Maloyaroslavets for me!