Monday, August 13, 2012

Russian resistance - 200 years ago...

Marshal Murat in his dandy uniform of the King of Naples
When he had devised his march toward Vitebsk, Barclay had very wisely ordered General Neverovski to take his division of 8,000 infantry and 1,500 cavalry onto the southern bank of the Dnieper to guard the approaches to Smolensk and observe any French moves.  A tough engagement ensued.  Murat flung his massed squadrons against the puny Russian force time and again, but failed to break its cohesion.  The King of Naples lost his head, instead of allowing the IIIrd Corps to move up through his cavalry to engage the Russian infantry, now formed in  one huge square, he deliberately blocked their passage, heedless of Ney's pleas, and launched no less than 40 piecemeal charges against the enemy.  They all proved to no avail; had the French been in a position to deploy some artillery, the Russian square would have been blasted into smithereens, but all their guns were held up in the narrow Krasnoe defile.  As a result, Neverovski was able to execute a model withdrawal toward Smolensk.
~ D. Chandler, The Campaigns of Napoleon, p.784

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