Timeline of World History TIMELINE OF WORLD HISTORY
 
 

TIMELINE OF WORLD HISTORY
 

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1800 - 1899
 
 
1800-09 1810-19 1820-29 1830-39 1840-49 1850-59 1860-69 1870-79 1880-89 1890-99
1800 1810 1820 1830 1840 1850 1860 1870 1880 1890
1801 1811 1821 1831 1841 1851 1861 1871 1881 1891
1802 1812 1822 1832 1842 1852 1862 1872 1882 1892
1803 1813 1823 1833 1843 1853 1863 1873 1883 1893
1804 1814 1824 1834 1844 1854 1864 1874 1884 1894
1805 1815 1825 1835 1845 1855 1865 1875 1885 1895
1806 1816 1826 1836 1846 1856 1866 1876 1886 1896
1807 1817 1827 1837 1847 1857 1867 1877 1887 1897
1808 1818 1828 1838 1848 1858 1868 1878 1888 1898
1809 1819 1829 1839 1849 1859 1869 1879 1889 1899
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
CONTENTS
  BACK-1811 Part III NEXT-1812 Part II    
 
 
     
FitzGerald Edward
1810 - 1819
YEAR BY YEAR:
1810-1819
History at a Glance
 
YEAR BY YEAR:
1810 Part I
Marie Louise, Duchess of Parma
Edict of Fontainebleau
First Republic of Venezuela
Mexican War of Independence
Argentine War of Independence
Colombian Declaration of Independence
Foolish Fatherland
Chilean War of Independence
Bolivian war of independence
Charles XIV John
Invasion of Guadeloupe
Cavour Camillo
 
YEAR BY YEAR:
1810 Part II
Cumberland Presbyterian Church
Montalembert Charles
Musset Alfred
Scott: "The Lady of the Lake"
Goya: "The Disasters of War"
The Nazarenes
Beethoven: "Egmont"
Chopin Frederic
Chopin - Nocturne Op.9 No.2
Frederic Chopin
Nicolai Otto
Nicolai - The Merry Wives of Windsor - Overture
Otto Nicolai
Rossini: "La Cambiale di Matrimonio"
Schumann Robert
Schumann - Piano sonata n.1 op.11
Robert Schumann
Spurzheim Johann Gaspar
Hahnemann Samuel
Girard Philippe
Humboldt University of Berlin
Krupp Friedrich Carl
Barnum Phineas Taylor
 
YEAR BY YEAR:
1811 Part I
George IV
Battle of the Danube
Massacre of the Mamelukes at Cairo
Napoleon Francois-Joseph Charles
Battle of Fuentes de Onoro
Paraguay independent of Spain
Venezuelan War of Independence
Peruvian War of Independence
San Martin Jose
Battle of Las Piedras
Artigas Jose Gervagio
Invasion of Java
Battle of Tippecanoe
 
YEAR BY YEAR:
1811 Part II
Bottiger Karl August
Niebuhr Barthold Georg
University of Oslo
Jane Austen: "Sense and Sensibility"
Stowe Harriet Beecher
Friedrich de la Motte-Fouque: "Undine"
Gautier Theophile
Goethe: "Aus meinem Leben: Dichtung und Wahrheit"
Gutzkow Karl
Thackeray William Makepeace
Dupre Jules
Jules Dupre
Ingres: "Jupiter and Thetis"
Thomas Lawrence: Portrait of Benjamin West
Thorvaldsen: "Procession of Alexander the Great"
 
YEAR BY YEAR:
1811 Part III
Liszt Franz
Franz Liszt - Liebestraum - Love Dream
Franz Liszt
Prague Conservatoire
Carl Maria von Weber: "Abu Hassan"
Avogadro Amedeo
Great Comet of 1811
Bunsen Robert
Poisson Simeon-Denis
Manning Thomas
Berblinger Albrecht Ludwig
"Luddites"
Jungfrau
 
YEAR BY YEAR:
1812 Part I
French invasion of Russia
Battle of Borodino
Kutuzov Mikhail
Malet Claude-François
Louisiana
Perceval Spencer
 
YEAR BY YEAR:
1812 Part II
War of 1812
Battle of Salamanca
Siege of Burgos
Battle of Tordesillas
Hegel: "Science of Logic"
Jewish emancipation
Browning Robert
Robert Browning 
"Dramatic Romances"
"The Pied Piper of Hamelin"
The Brothers Grimm: "Fairy Tales"
Lord Byron: "Childe Harold's Pilgrimage"
Dickens Charles
Charles Dickens
"Great Expectations"
Theatre Royal Drury Lane
Goncharov Ivan Aleksandrovich
Smiles Samuel
Krasinski Zygmunt
Kraszewski Joseph Ignatius
 
YEAR BY YEAR:
1812 Part III
Elgin Marbles
Rousseau Theodore
Theodore Rousseau
Pforr Franz
Franz Pforr
Beethoven: Symphonies No. 7 (Op. 92)
Encounter between Beethoven and Goethe at Teplitz
Beethoven: Symphonies No. 8 (Op. 93)
Flotow Friedrich
Friedrich von Flotow: Piano Concerto No. 2
Friedrich von Flotow
Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde, Vienna
Burckhardt Johann Ludwig
Krupp Alfred
Red River Settlement, Manitoba, Canada
Hampden Clubs
 
YEAR BY YEAR:
1813 Part I
German Campaign 1813–1814
Battle of Dresden
Battle of Lutzen
Battle of the Katzbach
Battle of Leipzig
Battle of York
Battle of Fort George
Capture of USS Chesapeake
Battle of Crysler's Farm
Capture of Fort Niagara
Battle of Buffalo
Battle of Vitoria
Siege of San Sebastian
First Serbian Uprising
 
YEAR BY YEAR:
1813 Part II
Herbart Johann Friedrich
Kierkegaard Soren
Schopenhauer: "On the Fourfold Root of the Principle of Sufficient Reason"
Colby College, Maine
The Baptist Union of Great Britain
Jane Austen: "Pride and Prejudice"
Buchner Georg
Byron: "The Giaour"
Hebbel Friedrich
Ludwig Otto
Shelley: "Queen Mab"
Turner: "Frosty Morning"
London Philharmonic Society
Rossini: "L'ltaliana in Algeri"
Verdi Giuseppe
Anna Netrebko "Final Scene" La traviata
Giuseppe Verdi
Wagner Richard
Richard Wagner - Ride Of The Valkyries
Richard Wagner
Campbell John
Blaxland Gregory
Across the Blue Mountains
Lord Thomas
 
YEAR BY YEAR:
1814 Part I
1814 campaign in France
Six Days Campaign
Battle of Champaubert
Battle of Montmirail
Battle of Chateau-Thierry
Battle of Vauchamps
Battle of Orthez
Treaty of Chaumont
Battle of Arcis-sur-Aube
Battle of Paris
Battle of Toulouse
Treaty of Fontainebleau
Treaty of Paris
Congress of Vienna
Napoleon's exile to Elba
 
YEAR BY YEAR:
1814 Part II
Christian VIII
Bakunin Mikhail
Battle of Chippawa
Burning of Washington
Battle of Plattsburgh
Treaty of Ghent
Anglo-Nepalese War of 1814–16
First Anglican bishop in Calcutta
Motley John Lothrop
 
YEAR BY YEAR:
1814 Part III
Jane Austen: "Mansfield Park"
Byron: "The Corsair"
Edmund Kean's Shylock
Lermontov Mikhail
Mikhail Lermontov
"Death of the Poet"
"Mtsyri"
"The Demon
"
Walter Scott: "Waverley"
Williav Wordsworth: "The Excursion"
Adelbert von Chamisso: "Peter Schlemihl"
Goya: "The Second of May 1808"
Goya: "The Third of May 1808"
Ingres: "Grande Odalisque"
Millet Jean Francois
Jean Francois Millet
Orfila Mathieu Joseph Bonaventure
Industrial printing presses
Lord's Cricket Ground
 
YEAR BY YEAR:
1815 Part I
Battle of New Orleans
Hundred Days
Neapolitan War
Battle of Waterloo
Napoleon's surrender
Second Peace of Paris
Ney Michel
NAPOLEON AND THE STRUGGLE FOR EUROPE, 1796-1815
 
YEAR BY YEAR:
1815 Part II
Corn Law
Bismarck Otto
Spanish Invasion of New Granada in 1815–1816
Basel Mission
Beranger Pierre
Byron: "Hebrew Melodies"
Geibel Emanuel
Hoffmann: "Die Elixiere des Teufels"
Scott: "Guy Mannering"
Trollope Anthony
Anthony Trollope 
"Barchester Towers"
Wordsworth: "White Doe of Rylstone"
 
YEAR BY YEAR:
1815 Part III
Goya: "La Tauromaquia"
Menzel Adolf
Adolf Menzel
Turner: "Crossing the Brook"
Franz Robert
Robert Franz - Oh Wert thou in the Cauld Blast
Robert Franz
Kjerulf Halfdan
Halfdan Kjerulf - Spring Song
Halfdan Kjerulf
Robert Volkmann - Cello Concerto in A minor
Robert Volkmann
Davy lamp
Fresnel Augustin-Jean
Prout William
Prout's hypothesis
Steam battery "Demologos", or "Fulton"
Nations in Arms
Warfare
Nations in Arms
(1763-1815)
Apothecaries Act
McAdam John Loudon
Robertson Allan
Eruption of Sumbawa Volcano
 
YEAR BY YEAR:
1816 Part I
Maria I, Queen of Portugal
John VI of Portugal
Argentine War of Independence
Argentine Declaration of Independence
Federal Convention
Indiana
American Bible Society
Gobineau Joseph Arthur
Karamzin Nikolai
 
YEAR BY YEAR:
1816 Part II
Jane Austen: "Emma"
Bronte Charlotte
Charlotte Bronte
"Jane Eyre"
Byron: "The Siege of Corinth"
Freytag Gustav
Derzhavin Gavrila
Leigh Hunt: "The Story of Rimini"
Shelley: "Alastor"
Goya: "The Duke of Osuna"
Rossini: "Barbiere di Siviglia"
Spohr: "Faust"
Brewster David
Laennec Rene-Theophile-Hyacinthe
Siemens Werner
Cobbett William
Froebel Friedrich
 
YEAR BY YEAR:
1817 Part I
Habeas Corpus Suspension Act
Blanketeers
Wartburg Festival
Second Serbian Uprising (1815-1817)
Mississippi
Third Anglo-Maratha War 1817-1818
Bockh August
Hegel: "Encyclopedia of the Philosophical Sciences"
Llorente Juan Antonio
Mommsen Theodor
David Ricardo: "Principles of Political Economy and Taxation"
Byron: "Manfred"
Thomas Moore: "Lalla Rookh"
Storm Theodor
Thoreau Henry David
 
YEAR BY YEAR:
1817 Part II
Constable: "Flatford Mill"
Daubigny Charles
Charles Daubigny
Thorvaldsen: Ganymede Waters Zeus as an Eagle
Leech John
John Leech
Watts George Frederic
George Frederic Watts
Rossini: "La Gazza ladra"
Rossini: "Cenerentola"
Selenium
Lithium
Ritter Carl
Long Stephen Harriman
"Blackwood's Magazine"
"The Scotsman"
Waterloo Bridge
 
YEAR BY YEAR:
1818 Part I
Chilean Declaration of Independence
Bavarian constitution proclaimed
Treaty of 1818
Illinois
Dobrovsky Josef
Froude James Anthony
Marx Karl
Karl Marx
"Manifesto of the Communist Party"
- Marxism
Friedrich Engels
First International
 
YEAR BY YEAR:
1818 Part II
Byron: "Don Juan"
Keats: "Endymion"
Peacock: "Nightmare Abbey"
Walter Scott: "Heart of Midlothian"
Shelley Mary
Mary Shelley "Frankenstein"
Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley 
"Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus"
Turgenev Ivan
 
YEAR BY YEAR:
1818 Part III
Burckhardt Jakob
Fohr Carl Philipp
Karl Philipp Fohr
Donizetti: "Enrico, Conte di Borgogna"
Gounod Charles
Gounod - Ave Maria
Charles Gounod
"Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht"
Rossini: "Mose in Egitto"
Bessel Friedrich Wilhelm
Encke Johann Franz
Oxley John
British Admiralty Expeditions
Scoresby William
Phipps Constantine Henry
Buchan David
Parry William Edward
Ross James Clark
Order of Saint Michael and Saint George
Raiffeisen Friedrich Wilhelm
"Savannah"
 
YEAR BY YEAR:
1819 Part I
Founding of modern Singapore
Florida
Victoria
Queen Victoria
Victorian Era
Peterloo Massacre
Albert, Prince Consort
Alabama
Jakob Grimm: "German Grammar"
Hermes Georg
Schopenhauer: "Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung"
Sismondi Jean
Wilson Horace Hayman
 
YEAR BY YEAR:
1819 Part II
Byron: "Mazeppa"
Eliot George
George Eliot 
"Silas Marner"
Fontane Theodor
Howe Julia Ward
Keats: "Hyperion"
Keller Gottfried
Kotzebue August
Lowell James Russell
Shelley: "The Cenci"
Whitman Walt
Walt Whitman
"Leaves of Grass"
Washington Irving: "Rip van Winkle"
 
YEAR BY YEAR:
1819 Part III
Courbet Gustave
Gustave Courbet
Theodore Gericault: "The Raft of the Medusa"
Ruskin John
Thorvaldsen: "Lion of Lucerne"
Turner: "Childe Harold's Pilgrimage"
Museo del Prado
Chasseriau Theodore
Theodore Chasseriau
Offenbach Jacques
Offenbach - Barcarole
Jacques Offenbach
Schumann Clara
Mitscherlich Eilhard
Oersted Hans Christian
Central Asia Exploration
Moorcroft William
First Sightings of the Antarctic Continent
Bransfield Edward
Weddell James
Bellingshausen Thaddeus
Burlington Arcade, Piccadilly, London
 
 
 

Napoleon's withdrawal from Russia, a painting by Adolph Northen.
 
 
 
 
 HISTORY, RELIGION, PHILOSOPHY, ART, LITERATURE, MUSIC, SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, DAILY LIFE
 
 
 
 
YEAR BY YEAR:  1800 - 1899
 
 
 
1812 Part I
 
 
 
1812
 
 
Prussia agrees to allow Fr. troops free passage in case of war with Russia
 
 
 
1812
 
 
Napoleon I, crossing Niemen River, enters Russia June 24;
crosses Viliya River, defeats Russians at Smolensk and Borodino, and enters Moscow;
he begins to retreat from Moscow Oct. 19, across the Berezina;
leaves Joachim Murat in command and sets out for Paris where he arrives Dec. 18 (out of his army of 550,000 only 20,000 survive the Russian campaign)
 
 
 
1812
 
 
French invasion of Russia
 
The French Invasion of Russia (French: Campagne de Russie) or the Patriotic War of 1812 (Russian: Отечественная война 1812 года) (Otechestvennaya Voyna 1812 Goda) began on 24 June 1812 when Napoleon's Grande Armée crossed the Neman River in an attempt to engage and defeat the Russian army. Napoleon hoped to compel Tsar Alexander I of Russia to cease trading with British merchants through proxies in an effort to pressure the United Kingdom to sue for peace. The official political aim of the campaign was to liberate Poland from the threat of Russia. Napoleon named the campaign the Second Polish War to gain favor with the Poles and provide a political pretense for his actions.
 
The Grande Armée was a very large force, numbering 680,000 soldiers (including 300,000 of French departments). Through a series of long marches Napoleon pushed the army rapidly through Western Russia in an attempt to bring the Russian army to battle, winning a number of minor engagements and a major battle at Smolensk in August. Napoleon hoped the battle would mean an end of the march into Russia, but the Russian army slipped away from the engagement and continued to retreat into Russia, while leaving Smolensk to burn. Plans Napoleon had made to quarter at Smolensk were abandoned, and he pressed his army on after the Russians.

As the Russian army fell back Cossacks were given the task of burning villages, towns and crops. This was intended to deny the invaders the option of living off the land. These scorched-earth tactics greatly surprised and disturbed the French, as the willingness of the Russians to destroy their own territory and harm their own people was difficult for the French to comprehend. The actions forced the French to rely on a supply system that was incapable of feeding the large army in the field. Starvation and privation compelled French soldiers to leave their camps at night in search of food. These men were frequently confronted by parties of Cossacks, who captured or killed them.

The Russian army retreated into Russia for almost three months. The continual retreat and the loss of lands to the French upset the Russian nobility. They pressured Alexander I to relieve the commander of the Russian army, Field Marshal Barclay. Alexander I complied, appointing an old veteran, Prince Mikhail Kutuzov, to take over command of the army.

On 7 September the French caught up with the Russian army which had dug itself in on hillsides before a small town called Borodino, seventy miles west of Moscow. The battle that followed was the largest and bloodiest single-day action of the Napoleonic Wars, involving more than 250,000 soldiers and resulting in 70,000 casualties. The French gained a victory, but at the cost of 49 general officers and thousands of men. The Russian army was able to extricate itself and withdrew the following day, leaving the French without the decisive victory Napoleon sought.

Napoleon entered Moscow a week later. In another turn of events the French found puzzling, there was no delegation to meet the Emperor. The Russians had evacuated the city, and the city's governor, Count Fyodor Rostopchin, had ordered the city to be burnt.

  Napoleon's hopes had been set upon a victorious end to his campaign, but victory in the field did not yield him victory in the war. The loss of Moscow did not compel Alexander I to sue for peace, and both sides were aware that Napoleon's position grew worse with each passing day. Napoleon stayed on in Moscow looking to negotiate a peace, his hopes fed in part by a disinformation campaign informing the Emperor of supposed discontent and fading morale in the Russian camp. After staying a month Napoleon moved his army out southwest toward Kaluga, where Kutuzov was encamped with the Russian army.

The French advance toward Kaluga was checked by a Russian corps. Napoleon tried once more to engage the Russian army for a decisive action at the Battle of Maloyaroslavets. Despite holding a superior position, the Russians retreated following a sharp engagement, confirming that the Russians would not commit themselves to a pitched battle. His troops exhausted, with few rations, no winter clothing, and his remaining horses in poor condition, Napoleon was forced to retreat. He hoped to reach supplies at Smolensk and later at Vilnius. In the weeks that followed the Grande Armée starved and suffered from the onset of the Russian Winter. Lack of food and fodder for the horses, hypothermia from the bitter cold and persistent attacks upon isolated troops from Russian peasants and Cossacks led to great losses in men, and a general loss of discipline and cohesion in the army.

When the remnants of Napoleon's army crossed the Berezina River in November, only 27,000 fit soldiers remained; the Grand Armée had lost some 380,000 men dead and 100,000 captured. Following the crossing of the Berezina Napoleon left the army, after much urging from his advisors and with the unanimous approval of his Marshals. He returned to Paris by carriage and sledge to protect his position as Emperor and to raise more forces to resist the advancing Russians.

The campaign effectively ended on 14 December 1812, not quite six months from its outset, with the last French troops leaving Russian soil.

The campaign was a turning point in the Napoleonic Wars. The reputation of Napoleon was severely shaken, and French hegemony in Europe was dramatically weakened. The Grande Armée, made up of French and allied invasion forces, was reduced to a fraction of its initial strength. These events triggered a major shift in European politics. France's ally Prussia, soon followed by Austria, broke their alliance with France and switched camps. This triggered the War of the Sixth Coalition.

 
 

Patriotic War of 1812. Advance of Napoleon's army (June 24 - October 2, 1812)
 
 
Causes
Although the Napoleonic Empire seemed to be at its height in 1810 and 1811, it had in fact already declined somewhat from its apogee in 1806-1809. While most of Western and Central Europe lay under his control - either directly or indirectly through various protectorates, allies, and countries defeated by his empire and under treaties favorable for France - Napoleon had embroiled his armies in the costly and drawn-out Peninsular War in Spain and Portugal. France's economy, army morale, and political support at home had noticeably declined. But most importantly, Napoleon himself was not in the same physical and mental state as in years past. He had become overweight and increasingly prone to various maladies. Nevertheless, despite his troubles in Spain, with the exception of British expeditionary forces to that country, no European power dared move against him.

The Treaty of Schönbrunn, which ended the 1809 war between Austria and France, had a clause removing Western Galicia from Austria and annexing it to the Grand Duchy of Warsaw. Russia viewed this as against its interests and as a potential launching-point for an invasion of Russia. In 1811 Russian staff developed a plan of offensive war, assuming a Russian assault on Warsaw and on Danzig.

In an attempt to gain increased support from Polish nationalists and patriots, Napoleon in his own words termed this war the Second Polish War:

Soldiers, the second war of Poland is started; the first finished in Tilsit. In Tilsit, Russia swore eternal alliance in France and war in England. It violates its oaths today. Russia is pulled by its fate; its destinies must be achieved! Does it thus believe us degenerated? Thus let us go ahead; let us pass Neman River, carry the war on its territory. The second war of Poland will be glorious with the French Armies like the first one.

Napoleon's "first" Polish war, the War of the Fourth Coalition to liberate Poland (from Russia, Prussia and Austria), he saw as such because one of the official declared goals of this war was the resurrection of the Polish state on territories of the former Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Tsar Alexander found Russia in an economic bind as his country had little in the way of manufacturing yet was rich in raw materials and relied heavily on trade with Napoleon's continental system for both money and manufactured goods. Russia's withdrawal from the system was a further incentive to Napoleon to force a decision.

  Logistics
The invasion of Russia clearly and dramatically demonstrates the importance of logistics in military planning, especially when the land will not provide for the number of troops deployed in an area of operations far exceeding the experience of the invading army.

Napoleon and the Grande Armée had developed a proclivity for living off the land that had served it well in the densely populated and agriculturally rich central Europe with its dense network of roads.

Rapid forced marches had dazed and confused old order Austrian and Prussian armies and much had been made of the use of foraging. In Russia many of the Grande Armée's methods of operation worked against it and they were additionally seriously handicapped by the lack of winter horse shoes which made it impossible for the horses to obtain traction on snow.

Forced marches often made troops do without supplies as the supply wagons struggled to keep up. Lack of food and water in thinly populated, much less agriculturally dense regions led to the death of troops and their mounts by exposing them to waterborne diseases from drinking from mud puddles and eating rotten food and forage. The front of the army received whatever could be provided while the formations behind starved.

Napoleon had in fact made extensive preparations providing for the provisioning of his army. Seventeen train battalions, comprising 6000 vehicles, were to provide a 40-day supply for the Grande Armée and its operations, and a large system of magazines was established in towns and cities in Poland and East Prussia.

At the start of the campaign, no march on Moscow was envisioned and so the preparations would have sufficed. However, the Russian armies could not stand singularly against the main battle group of 285,000 men and continued to retreat and attempt to join one another.

This demanded an advance by the Grande Armée over a network of dirt roads that dissolved into deep mires, where ruts in the mud froze solid, killing already exhausted horses and breaking wagons.

As the graph of Charles Joseph Minard, given below, shows, the Grande Armée incurred the majority of its losses during the march to Moscow during the summer and autumn. Starvation, desertion, typhus and suicide would cost the French Army more men than all the battles of the Russian invasion combined.

 
 

As irregular cavalry, the Cossack horsemen of the Russian steppes were best suited to reconnaissance, scouting and harassing the enemy's flanks and supply lines.
 
 
Opposing forces
Grande Armée

On 24 June 1812, the 450,000 men of the Grande Armée, the largest army assembled up to that point in European history, crossed the river Neman and headed towards Moscow. Anthony Joes in Journal of Conflict Studies wrote that:

Figures on how many men Napoleon took into Russia and how many eventually came out vary rather widely.

[Georges] Lefebvre says that Napoleon crossed the Neman with over 600,000 soldiers, only half of whom were from France, the others being mainly Poles and Germans.
Felix Markham thinks that 450,000 crossed the Neman on 25 June 1812, of whom fewer than 40,000 recrossed in anything like a recognizable military formation.
James Marshall-Cornwall says 510,000 Imperial troops entered Russia.
Eugene Tarle believes that 420,000 crossed with Napoleon and 150,000 eventually followed, for a grand total of 570,000.
Richard K. Riehn provides the following figures: 685,000 men marched into Russia in 1812, of whom around 355,000 were French; 31,000 soldiers marched out again in some sort of military formation, with perhaps another 35,000 stragglers, for a total of fewer than 70,000 known survivors.
Adam Zamoyski estimated that between 550,000 and 600,000 French and allied troops (including reinforcements) operated beyond the Niemen, of which as many as 400,000 troops died.

"Whatever the accurate number, it is generally accepted that the overwhelming majority of this grand army, French and allied, remained, in one condition or another, inside Russia."
—Anthony Joes

M. Minard's famous infographic (see below) depicts the march ingeniously by showing the size of the advancing army, overlaid on a rough map, as well as the retreating soldiers together with temperatures recorded (as much as 30 below zero on the Réaumur scale) on their return. The numbers on this chart have 422,000 crossing the Neman with Napoleon, 22,000 taking a side trip early on in the campaign, 100,000 surviving the battles en route to Moscow and returning from there; only 4,000 survive the march back, to be joined by 6,000 that survived from that initial 22,000 in the feint attack northward; in the end, only 10,000 crossed the Neman back out of the initial 422,000.

  Russian Imperial Army
The forces immediately facing Napoleon consisted of three armies comprising 175,250 Russians and 15,000 Cossacks, with 938 guns.
These forces, however, could count on reinforcements from the second line, which totaled 129,000 men and 8,000 Cossacks, with 434 guns and 433 rounds of ammunition.

Of these about 105,000 men were actually available for the defense against the invasion. In the third line were the 36 recruit depots and militias, which came to the total of approximately 161,000 men of various and highly disparate military values, of which about 133,000 actually took part in the defense.

Thus, the grand total of all the forces was 488,000 men, of which about 428,000 gradually came into action against the Grand Army. This bottom line, however, includes more than 80,000 Cossacks and militiamen, as well as about 20,000 men who garrisoned the fortresses in the operational area.

Sweden, Russia's only ally, did not send supporting troops. But the alliance made it possible to withdraw the 45,000-man Russian corps Steinheil from Finland and use it in the later battles (20,000 men were sent to Riga).

Invasion
Crossing the Niemen

The invasion commenced on 24 June 1812. Napoleon had sent a final offer of peace to Saint Petersburg shortly before commencing operations. He never received a reply, so he gave the order to proceed into Russian Poland. He initially met little resistance and moved quickly into the enemy's territory. The French coalition of forces amounted to 449,000 men and 1,146 cannons being opposed by the Russian armies combining to muster 153,000 Russians, 938 cannons, and 15,000 Cossacks. The center of mass of French forces focused on Kaunas and the crossings were made by the French Guard, I, II and III corps amounting to some 120,000 at this point of crossing alone.

The actual crossings were made in the area of Alexioten where three pontoon bridges were constructed. The sites had been selected by Napoleon in person. Napoleon had a tent raised and he watched and reviewed troops as they crossed the Niemen. Roads in this area of Lithuania hardly qualified as such, actually being small dirt tracks through areas of dense forest. Supply lines simply could not keep up with the forced marches of the corps and rear formations always suffered the worst privations.
 
 


General Raevsky leading a detachment of the Russian Imperial Guard at the Battle of Saltanovka.

 
 
March on Vilnius
The 25th of June found Napoleon's group past the bridge head with Ney's command approaching the existing crossings at Alexioten. Murat's reserve cavalry provided the vanguard with Napoleon the guard and Davout's 1st corp following behind. Eugene's command would cross the Niemen further north at Piloy, and MacDonald crossed the same day.

Jerome command wouldn't complete its crossing at Grodno until the 28th. Napoleon rushed towards Vilnius pushing the infantry forward in columns that suffered from heavy rain then stifling heat. The central group would cross 70 miles (110 km) in two days.

Ney's III corps would march down the road to Sudervė with Oudinot marching on the other side of the Neris River in an operation attempting to catch General Wittgenstein's command between Ney, Oudinout and Macdonald's commands, but Macdonald's command was late in arriving to an objective too far away and the opportunity vanished. Jerome was tasked with tackling Bagration by marching to Grodno and Reynier's VII corps sent to Białystok in support.

The Russian headquarters was in fact centered in Vilnius on June 24 and couriers rushed news about the crossing of the Niemen to Barclay de Tolley. Before the night had passed orders were sent out to Bagration and Platov to take the offensive. Alexander left Vilnius on June 26 and Barclay assumed overall command. Although Barclay wanted to give battle he assessed it as a hopeless situation and ordered Vilnius's magazines burned and its bridge dismantled.

Wittgenstein moved his command to Perkele passing beyond Macdonald and Oudinot's operations with Wittgenstein's rear guard clashing with Oudinout's forward elements. Doctorov on the Russian Left found his command threatened by Phalen's III cavalry corp. Bagration was ordered to Vileyka which moved him towards Barclay though the order's intent is still something of a mystery to this day.

On June the 28th Napoleon entered Vilnius with only light skirmishing. The foraging in Lithuania proved hard as the land was mostly barren and forested. The supplies of forage were less than that of Poland and two days of forced marching made a bad supply situation worse.

Central to the problem were the expanding distances to supply magazines and the fact that no supply wagon could keep up with a forced marched infantry column. The weather itself became an issue where according to historian Richard K. Riehn:

The thunderstorms of the 24th turned into other downpours, turning the tracks——some diarists claim there were no roads in Lithuania——into bottomless mires. Wagon sank up to their hubs; horses dropped from exhaustion; men lost their boots.

Stalled wagons became obstacles that forced men around them and stopped supply wagons and artillery columns. Then came the sun which would bake the deep ruts into canyons of concrete, where horses would break their legs and wagons their wheels.

A Lieutenant Mertens — a Wurttemberger serving with Ney's III corps — reported in his diary that oppressive heat followed by rain left them with dead horses and camping in swamp-like conditions with dysentery and influenza raging though the ranks with hundreds in a field hospital that had to be set up for the purpose.

He reported the times, dates and places, of events reporting thunderstorms on the 6th of June and men dying of sunstroke by the 11th. The Crown Prince of Wurttemberg reported 21 men dead in bivouacs. The Bavarian corps was reporting 345 sick by June 13.

  Desertion was high among Spanish and Portuguese formations. These deserters proceeded to terrorize the population, looting whatever lay to hand. The areas in which the Grande Armée passed were devastated. A Polish officer reported that areas around him were depopulated.

The French light Cavalry was shocked to find itself outclassed by Russian counterparts so much so that Napoleon had ordered that infantry be provided as back up to French light cavalry units. This affected both French reconnaissance and intelligence operations. Despite 30,000 cavalry, contact was not maintained with Barclay's forces leaving Napoleon guessing and throwing out columns to find his opposition.

The operation intended to split Bagration's forces from Barclay's forces by driving to Vilnius had cost the French forces 25,000 losses from all causes in a few days. Strong probing operations were advanced from Vilnius towards Nemenčinė, Mykoliškės, Ashmyany and Molėtai.

Eugene crossed at Prenn on June 30 while Jerome moved VII Corps to Białystok, with everything else crossing at Grodno. Murat advanced to Nemenčinė on July 1 running into elements of Doctorov's III Russian Cavalry Corps en route to Djunaszev. Napoleon assumed this was Bagration's 2nd Army and rushed out before being told it was not 24 hours later. Napoleon then attempted to use Davout, Jerome and Eugene out on his right in a hammer and anvil to catch Bagration to destroy the 2nd army in an operation spanning Ashmyany and Minsk. This operation had failed to produce results on his left before with Macdonald and Oudinot. Doctorov had moved from Djunaszev to Svir narrowly evading French forces, with 11 regiments and a battery of 12 guns heading to join Bagration when moving too late to stay with Doctorov.

Conflicting orders and lack of information had almost placed Bagration in a bind marching into Davout; however, Jerome could not arrive in time over the same mud tracks, supply problems, and weather, that had so badly affected the rest of the Grande Armée, losing 9000 men in four days. Command disputes between Jerome and General Vandamme would not help the situation. Bagration joined with Doctorov and had 45,000 men at Novi-Sverzen by the 7th. Davout had lost 10,000 men marching to Minsk and would not attack Bagration without Jerome joining him. Two French Cavalry defeats by Platov kept the French in the dark and Bagration was no better informed with both overestimating the other's strength, Davout thought Bagration had some 60,000 men and Bagration thought Davout had 70,000. Bagration was getting orders from both Alexander's staff and Barclay (which Barclay didn't know) and left Bagration without a clear picture of what was expected of him and the general situation. This stream of confused orders to Bagration had him upset with Barclay which would have repercussions later.

Napoleon reached Vilnius on the 28th of June leaving 10,000 dead horses in his wake. These horses were vital to bringing up further supplies to an army in desperate need. Napoleon had supposed that Alexander would sue for peace at this point and was to be disappointed; it would not be his last disappointment. Barclay continued to retreat to the Drissa deciding that the concentration of the 1st and 2nd armies was his first priority.

Barclay continued his retreat and with the exception of the occasional rearguard clash remained unhindered in his movements ever further east. To date the standard methods of the Grande Armée were working against it. Rapid forced marches quickly caused desertion, starvation, exposed the troops to filthy water and disease, while the logistics trains lost horses by the thousands, further exacerbating the problems. Some 50,000 stragglers and deserters became a lawless mob warring with local peasantry in all-out guerrilla war, that further hindered supplies reaching the Grand Armee which was already down 95,000 men.

 
 
March on Moscow
Barclay, the Russian commander-in-chief, refused to fight despite Bagration's urgings. Several times he attempted to establish a strong defensive position, but each time the French advance was too quick for him to finish preparations and he was forced to retreat once more.

When the French army progressed further, serious problems in foraging surfaced, aggravated by scorched earth tactics of the Russian army advocated by Karl Ludwig von Phull.

Political pressure on Barclay to give battle and the general's continuing reluctance to do so (viewed as intransigence by the Russian nobility) led to his removal. He was replaced in his position as commander-in-chief by the popular Mikhail Illarionovich Kutuzov.

Kutuzov, however, continued much along the line of the general Russian strategy, fighting the occasional defensive engagement but being careful not to risk the army in an open battle.

Instead the Russian army fell back ever deeper into Russia's interior. Following a defeat at Smolensk on August 16–18 he continued the move east. Unwilling to give up Moscow without a fight, Kutuzov took up a defensive position some 75 miles before Moscow at Borodino.

 
French Carabiniers-à-Cheval
 
 

The Battle of Borodino
The Battle of Borodino (Russian: Бородинская битва, Borodinskaya bitva; French: Bataille de la Moskowa), fought on September 7, 1812, was the largest and bloodiest battle of the French invasion of Russia, involving more than 250,000 troops and resulting in at least 70,000 casualties. The French Grande Armée under Emperor Napoleon I attacked the Imperial Russian Army of General Mikhail Kutuzov near the village of Borodino, west of the town of Mozhaysk and eventually captured the main positions on the battlefield but failed to destroy the Russian army. About a third of Napoleon's soldiers were killed or wounded; Russian losses, while heavier, could be replaced due to Russia's large population, since Napoleon's campaign took place on Russian soil.

 

The battle ended with the Russian Army, while out of position, still offering resistance. The state of exhaustion of the French forces and the lack of recognition of the state of the Russian Army led Napoleon to remain on the battlefield with his army instead of the forced pursuit that had marked other campaigns that he had conducted. The entirety of the Guard was still available to Napoleon and in refusing to use it he lost this singular chance to destroy the Russian army. The battle at Borodino was a pivotal point in the campaign, as it was the last offensive action fought by Napoleon in Russia. By withdrawing, the Russian army preserved its combat strength, eventually allowing it to force Napoleon out of the country.

The Battle of Borodino on September 7 was the bloodiest day of battle in the Napoleonic Wars. The Russian army could only muster half of its strength on September 8 and was forced to retreat, leaving the road to Moscow open. Kutuzov also ordered the evacuation of the city.

By this point the Russians had managed to draft large numbers of reinforcements into the army bringing total Russian land forces to their peak strength in 1812 of 904,000 with perhaps 100,000 in the vicinity of Moscow — the remnants of Kutuzov's army from Borodino partially reinforced.

 
 
Capture of Moscow
On September 14, 1812, Napoleon moved into the empty city that was stripped of all supplies by its governor, Feodor Rostopchin. Relying on classical rules of warfare aiming at capturing the enemy's capital (even though Saint Petersburg was the political capital at that time, Moscow was the spiritual capital of Russia), Napoleon had expected Tsar Alexander I to offer his capitulation at the Poklonnaya Hill but the Russian command did not think of surrendering.

As Napoleon prepared to enter Moscow he was surprised to have received no delegation from the city. At the approach of a victorious general, the civil authorities customarily presented themselves at the gates of the city with the keys to the city in an attempt to safeguard the population and their property. As nobody received Napoleon he sent his aides into the city, seeking out officials with whom the arrangements for the occupation could be made. When none could be found, it became clear that the Russians had left the city unconditionally.

 
Napoléon and General Lauriston —
Peace at all costs!
 
 

In a normal surrender, the city officials would be forced to find billets and make arrangements for the feeding of the soldiers, but the situation caused a free-for-all in which every man was forced to find lodgings and sustenance for himself. Napoleon was secretly disappointed by the lack of custom as he felt it robbed him of a traditional victory over the Russians, especially in taking such a historically significant city.

Before the order was received to evacuate Moscow, the city had a population of approximately 270,000 people. As much of the population pulled out, the remainder were burning or robbing the remaining stores of food, depriving the French of their use. As Napoleon entered the Kremlin, there still remained one-third of the original population, mainly consisting of foreign traders, servants and people who were unable or unwilling to flee. These, including the several hundred strong French colony, attempted to avoid the troops.

 
 

Patriotic War of 1812. The expulsion of Napoleon's army from Russia (October 18 — December 14, 1812)
 
 
Retreat and rebuilding
Both Armies began to move and rebuild. The Russian retreat was significant for two reasons; firstly, the move was to the south and not the east; secondly, the Russians immediately began operations that would continue to deplete the French forces. Platov, commanding the rear guard on the 8th of September, offered such strong resistance that Napoleon remained on the Borodino field. On the 9th of September Miloradovitch assumed command of the rear guard adding his forces to the formation. Another battle was given throwing back French forces at Semolino causing 2,000 losses on both sides, however some 10,000 wounded would be left behind by the Russian Army. The French Army began to move out on Sept. 10th with the still ill Napoleon not leaving until the 12th. Some 18,000 men were ordered in from Smolensk, and Marshal Victor's corps supplied another 25,000. Miloradovich would not give up his rear guard duties until the 14th allowing much of Moscow to be deserted, and retreated under a truce at last.
 
 

The fire of Moscow (September 1812)
 
 
Fire of Moscow
Upon entering Moscow, the Grande Armée found the city largely abandoned. Fyodor Rostopchin who was the military governor of Moscow, had ordered the city evacuated, including all the city administrators and officials, leaving behind only a few French tutors, foreign shop keepers and those that were the lowest class of society.

No one was on hand to meet the Emperor Napoleon when he arrived at the city gates on September 14. In addition to abandoning the city, Rostopchin had ordered the prisons to be opened.

On the first night of French occupation a fire broke out in the Bazaar. There was no administrative means on hand to organize fighting the fire, and no pumps or hoses could be found. Later that night a couple more fires broke out in the suburbs. These were thought to be due to carelessness on the part of the soldiers. Some looting occurred and a military government was hastily set up in an attempt to keep order.

The following night the city began to burn in earnest. Fires broke out across the north part of the city, spreading and merging over the next few days. Rostopchin had left a small detachment of police, whom he charged with burning the city to the ground. Houses had been prepared with flammable materials. The city's fire-engines had been dismantled.

Fuses were left throughout the city to ignite the fires. French troops endeavored to fight the fire with whatever means they could, struggling to prevent the armory from exploding and to keep the Kremlin from burning down. The heat was intense. Moscow, composed largely of wooden buildings, burnt down almost completely. It was estimated that four-fifths of the city was destroyed.

  Retreat and losses
Sitting in the ashes of a ruined city with no foreseeable prospect of Russian capitulation, idle troops and supplies diminished by use and Russian operations of attrition, Napoleon had little choice but to withdraw his army from Moscow. He began the long retreat by the middle of October 1812. At the Battle of Maloyaroslavets, Kutuzov was able to force the French army into using the same Smolensk road on which they had earlier moved east, the corridor of which had been stripped of food by both armies. This is often presented as an example of scorched-earth tactics. Continuing to block the southern flank to prevent the French from returning by a different route, Kutuzov employed partisan tactics to repeatedly strike at the French train where it was weakest. Light Russian cavalry, including mounted Cossacks, assaulted and broke up isolated French units.

Supplying the army became an impossibility – the lack of grass weakened the army's remaining horses, almost all of which died or were killed for food by starving soldiers. Without horses, the French cavalry ceased to exist; cavalrymen had to march on foot. The lack of horses required that cannons and wagons be abandoned, depriving the army of artillery and support convoys. Although the army was quickly able to replace its artillery in 1813, the abandonment of thousands of wagons in Russia created an immense logistical problem for the remainder of the war. As starvation and disease took their toll, desertion soared. Most of the deserters were taken prisoner or promptly executed by Russian peasants. Badly weakened by these circumstances, the French military position collapsed. The Russians inflicted further defeats on elements of the Grande Armée at Vyazma, Krasnoi and Polotsk. The crossing of the river Berezina was a final French calamity; two Russian armies inflicted horrendous casualties on the remnants of the Grande Armée as it struggled to escape across pontoon bridges.
 
 

In 1812 by Illarion Pryanishnikov.
 
 

In early November 1812 Napoleon learned that General Claude de Malet had attempted a coup d'état in France. He abandoned the army and returned home on a sleigh, leaving Marshal Joachim Murat in command. Murat subsequently decamped to try to save his kingdom of Naples, leaving Napoleon's former stepson Eugène de Beauharnais in command.

In the following weeks, the Grande Armée shrank further and on 14 December 1812 it left Russian territory. According to the popular legend only about 22,000 of Napoleon's men survived the Russian campaign. However, some sources say that no more than 380,000 soldiers were killed. The difference can be explained by up to 100,000 French prisoners in Russian hands (mentioned by Eugen Tarlé, and released in 1814) and more than 80,000 (including all wing-armies, not only the rest of the "main army" under Napoleon's direct command) returning troops (mentioned by German military historians). According to Russian state broadcaster Voice of Russia, nearly 150,000 of Napoleon's soldiers remained in Russia, often Russifying their names and finding employment ranging from teaching the French language to Russian aristocrats and officials, to assisting in the Russian settlement of Siberia.

 
 
Most of the Prussian contingent survived thanks to the Convention of Tauroggen and almost the whole Austrian contingent under Schwarzenberg withdrew successfully. The Russians formed the Russian-German Legion from other German prisoners and deserters.

Russian casualties in the few open battles are comparable to the French losses but civilian losses along the devastated campaign route were much higher than the military casualties. In total, despite earlier estimates giving figures of several million dead, around one million were killed including civilians — fairly evenly split between the French and Russians. Military losses amounted to 300,000 French, about 72,000 Poles, 50,000 Italians, 80,000 Germans, 61,000 from other nations. As well as the loss of human life the French also lost some 200,000 horses and over 1,000 artillery pieces.

The losses of the Russian armies are difficult to assess. The 19th-century historian Michael Bogdanovich assessed reinforcements of the Russian armies during the war using the Military Registry archives of the General Staff. According to this the reinforcements totaled 134,000 men. The main army at the time of capture of Vilnius in December had 70,000 men, whereas its number at the start of the invasion had been about 150,000.
Thus, total losses would come to 210,000 men. Of these about 40,000 returned to duty. Losses of the formations operating in secondary areas of operations as well as losses in militia units were about 40,000. Thus, he came up with the number of 210,000 men and militiamen.

 
Bad News from France, painting depicting Napoleon encamped in a Russian Orthodox church (Vasily Vereshchagin, part of his series, "Napoleon, 1812", 1887–95).
 
 
Increasingly the view that the greater part of the Grande Armée perished in Russia has been criticised. Hay has argued that the destruction of the Dutch contingent of the Grande Armée was not a result of death of most of its members. Rather its various units disintegrated and the troops scattered. Later many of these personnel were collected and reorganised into the new Dutch army.
 
 

The Night Bivouac of Napoleon's Army during retreat from Russia in 1812. Oil on canvas. Historical Museum, Moscow, Russia.
 
 
Weather as a factor
Following the campaign a saying arose that the Generals Janvier and Fevrier (January and February) defeated Napoleon, alluding to the Russian Winter. The campaign was over by mid-December, though. At the same time, there is some truth to the saying. The coming winter weather was heavy on the minds of Napoleon's closest advisers.

The army was equipped with summer clothing, and did not have the means to keep it protected from the cold. In addition, it lacked the ability to forge calkin to rough shoe the horses and enable them to walk over roads that had become iced over. The major killing effect of the cold weather upon his forces occurred during their retreat. Hypothermia coupled with starvation led to the loss of thousands. In his memoir, Napoleon's close advisor Armand de Caulaincourt recounted scenes of great loss, and offered a vivid description of mass death through hypothermia:

The cold was so intense that bivouacking was no longer supportable. Bad luck to those who fell asleep by a campfire! Furthermore, disorganization was perceptibly gaining ground in the Guard. One constantly found men who, overcome by the cold, had been forced to drop out and had fallen to the ground, too weak or too numb to stand. Ought one to help them along - which practically meant carrying them? They begged one to let them alone. There were bivouacs all along the road - ought one to take them to a campfire? Once these poor wretches fell asleep they were dead. If they resisted the craving for sleep, another passer by would help them along a little farther, thus prolonging their agony for a short while, but not saving them, for in this condition the drowsiness engendered by cold is irresistibly strong. Sleep comes inevitably, and to sleep is to die. I tried in vain to save a number of these unfortunates. The only words they uttered were to beg me, for the love of God, to go away and let them sleep. To hear them, one would have thought sleep was their salvation. Unhappily, it was a poor wretch's last wish. But at least he ceased to suffer, without pain or agony.

  Gratitude, and even a smile, was imprinted on his discoloured lips. What I have related about the effects of extreme cold, and of this kind of death by freezing, is based on what I saw happen to thousands of individuals. The road was covered with their corpses."

This befell a Grande Armée that was ill equipped for cold weather. The Russians considered it a relatively mild winter, underscoring the fact that cold kills, and that too cold is cold beyond what you have prepared for. In the case of the French, their intentions of concluding the campaign before the cold weather set in was as murderous as the cold weather itself.

Inadequate supplies played a key role in the losses suffered by the army as well. Davidov and other Russian campaign participants record wholesale surrenders of starving members of the Grande Armée even before the onset of the frosts. Caulaincourt describes men swarming over and cutting up horses that slipped and fell, even before the poor creature had been killed. There were even eyewitness reports of cannibalism. All this underscores the fact that the French were unable to feed their army. Starvation led to a general loss of cohesion. Constant harassment of the French army by Cossacks added to the losses during the retreat.

Though starvation and the winter weather caused horrendous casualties in Napoleon's army, losses arose from other sources as well. The main body of Napoleon's Grande Armée diminished by a third during the first eight weeks of his invasion before the major battle of the campaign. This decrease was partly due to garrisoning supply centers, desertions, disease, and casualties sustained in minor actions. The central French force under Napoleon's direct command crossed the Niemen river with 286,000 men, but by the time of the Battle of Borodino his force was reduced to 161,475. He lost at least 30,000 of them there, to gain a narrow and Pyrrhic victory almost 1,000 km (620 mi) deep into hostile territory.

Napoleon's invasion of Russia is listed among the most lethal military operations in world history.

 
 

Napoleon's withdrawal from Russia, a painting by Adolph Northen.
 
 
Historical assessment

Alternative names

Napoleon's invasion of Russia is better known in Russia as the Patriotic War of 1812 (Russian Отечественная война 1812 года, Otechestvennaya Vojna 1812 goda). It should not be confused with the Great Patriotic War (Великая Отечественная война, Velikaya Otechestvennaya Voyna), a term for Adolf Hitler's invasion of Russia during the Second World War. The Patriotic War of 1812 is also occasionally referred to as simply the "War of 1812", a term which should not to be confused with the conflict between Great Britain and the United States, also known as the War of 1812. In Russian literature written prior to the Russian revolution, the war was occasionally described as "the invasion of twelve languages" (Russian: нашествие двенадцати языков). Napoleon termed this war the "Second Polish War" in an attempt to gain increased support from Polish nationalists and patriots. Though the stated goal of the war was the resurrection of the Polish state on the territories of the former Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (modern territories of Poland, Lithuania, Belarus and Ukraine), in fact this issue was of no real concern to Napoleon.
 
 
Aftermath
The Russian victory over the French army in 1812 was a significant blow to Napoleon's ambitions of European dominance. This war was the reason the other coalition allies triumphed once and for all over Napoleon. His army was shattered and morale was low, both for French troops still in Russia, fighting battles just before the campaign ended and for the troops on other fronts. Out of an original force of 615,000, only 110,000 frostbitten and half starved survivors stumbled back into France. The Russian campaign was the decisive turning-point of the Napoleonic Wars, and ultimately led to Napoleon's defeat and exile on the island of Elba. For Russia the term Patriotic War (an English rendition of the Russian Отечественная война) became a symbol for a strengthened national identity that would have great effect on Russian patriotism in the 19th century. The indirect result of the patriotic movement of Russians was a strong desire for the modernization of the country that would result in a series of revolutions, starting with the Decembrist revolt and ending with the February Revolution of 1917.

Napoleon was not completely defeated by the disaster in Russia. The following year he raised an army of around 400,000 French troops supported by a quarter of a million French allied troops to contest control of Germany in an even larger campaign. Despite being outnumbered, he won a large victory at the Battle of Dresden. It was not until the decisive Battle of Nations (October 16–19, 1813) that he was finally defeated and afterwards no longer had the troops to stop the Coalition's invasion of France. Napoleon did still manage to inflict heavy losses and a series of minor military victories on the far larger Allied armies as they drove towards Paris, though they captured the city and forced him to abdicate in 1814.

The Russian campaign revealed that Napoleon was not invincible, decreasing his reputation as a military genius. Napoleon made many terrible errors in this campaign, the worst of which was to undertake it in the first place. The ongoing conflict in Spain was an additional drain on resources, and made it more difficult to recover from the retreat. Said historian F.G. Hourtoulle: "One does not make war on two fronts, especially so far apart." In trying to have both he gave up any chance at either. Napoleon had foreseen what it would mean, so he fled back to France quickly before word of the disaster became widespread, allowing him to start raising another army. Following the campaign Metternich began to take the actions that would take Austria out of the war with a secret truce. Sensing this and urged on by Prussian nationalists and Russian commanders, German nationalists revolted in the Confederation of the Rhine and Prussia. The decisive German campaign would likely not have occurred without the events of the defeat in Russia.

  Historical echos
Napoleon's defeat was somewhat mirrored by Hitler's failed invasion on Russia during World War II in 1941.

Although, ironically, Hitler had studied Napoleon's battle tactics, he decided, against the advice of many of his top advisers, to invade Russia and break his pact with Stalin. He knew the invasion would have only one chance and if he failed, he would be fighting a war on two fronts (the Western Front consisting of the Western Allies and the Eastern Front which would consist of the Soviet Union) which also proved fatal in Napoleon's situation. In 1812, Napoleon had been campaigning in Spain as well as Russia and had failed in both.

In 1941, Hitler had to split his army in order to conquer Russia and in doing so, perhaps lost the war solely on that point. After Stalin found out what had happened, he orchestrated the Battle of Moscow which, along with the notoriously cold Russian winter, stopped the German troops and finally pushed them back. Hitler would now be fighting on two fronts.

Hitler, however, had learned lessons from Napoleon's defeat, and used different tactics that ultimately made the war against Germany even more costly for Soviet Russia than the war against the French. During Operation Barbarossa, Hitler spurned a single centered attack on Moscow and ordered the Wehrmacht to attack in fast assaults along a broad front from the Arctic to the Ukraine in order to deny the Russians any rear territory they could use to outflank the enemy.

The Germans also brought along Gestapo agents and Waffen-SS forces to brutally subjugate the conquered areas and to fight guerrillas and partisans they knew would erupt in areas they occupied. Finally they fought hard to hold on to every inch of territory during Russian counterattacks, resulting in heavy casualties among both Soviets and Germans in many battles.

Ultimately the Russians lost more than 27 million soldiers and civilians (along with more than 4 million German deaths) and saw its economy and western territories utterly devastated before the Germans were defeated in May 1945.

Cultural impact
An event of epic proportions and momentous importance for European history, the French invasion of Russia has been the subject of much discussion among historians.

The campaign's sustained role in Russian culture may be seen in Tolstoy's War and Peace, Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture, and the identification of it with the German invasion of 1941–45, which became known as the Great Patriotic War in the Soviet Union.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

 
 

Napoleon and his staff at Borodino
 
 
Battle of Borodino
 
 

7 September 1812

Forces Engaged
Russian: 120,000 men. Commander: General Prince Mikhail Golinishcev-Kutusov.
French: 120,000 men. Commander: Napoleon Bonaparte.

Importance

Napoleon's string of victories, dating back to 1798, came to an end in the wake of Borodino. By failing to crush the Russian army, he failed to defeat Russia, beginning the decline of his fortunes.

 
Historical Setting
 
By 1807, Emperor Napoleon had defeated every major power on the Continent at least once. His authority stretched from Spain to Poland, and only Great Britain remained untouchable. Russia was as yet unconquered, but Czar Alexander signed the Treaty of Tilsit in 1807 and that made him an ally, albeit unwilling, of Napoleon's France. Under the terms of the treaty, the Russian monarch was to have his country join Napoleon's Continental System, which was designed to hurt Britain the only way France could, that is, economically. By denying European markets to British merchants, Napoleon hoped to put economic pressure on the British government, much as the American colonists had done to Britain before the American Revolution. In place of British manufactured goods, Russians were to buy products from France, even though they were rather more expensive.
 
 
Economic pressure on the populace was not the only problem that Russia had with Napoleon. Napoleon's control of the Duchy of Warsaw bothered the Russian government immensely. Russians and Poles were enemies of long standing, and a French force based in Poland could easily be launched at Russia. To further upset Russian goals, Napoleon was making threatening gestures toward the Dardanelles, the straits between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean that had long been a target of Russian desires. Thus, the combined economic and political strains wore on Russia, and by 1812 the czar's advisors were urging him to break free of the French constraints. Napoleon knew of these troubling views, and so sent a warning to Alexander. A convoy of British merchant ships were on their way to St. Petersburg; intern them or else. When Alexander did not, that was the excuse Napoleon needed to launch his invasion. Knowing that other European countries might follow Russia's lead, Napoleon needed to punish the czar pour le encouragement de I'autres, to encourage the others.

Napoleons invasion force was massive, 460,000 men in the invasion with another 200,000 covering his lines of communication back to Poland; however, about half of them were not French and therefore were potentially unreliable. The Russians were not without assistance. Alexander had been engaging in talks with Sweden (whose Crown Prince Bernadotte was an ex-Napoleonic marshal), Poland (whose population has historically danced with any devil that would rid them of a current occupier), Prussia, Turkey, and Britain, from which came military advisors to the Russian army. In spite of the fact that this force was the largest that Napoleon had ever assembled, Napoleon's closest advisors counseled against the invasion. Fourteen years of victories overrode their advice. Napoleon was convinced that the invasion would be relatively simple because he was sure that the Russian peasants would embrace the principles of the French Revolution and reject the autocratic rule of the czar.
  He was also convinced rhat he could easily live off the land, as he had done in every previous campaign, and the establishment of regularly placed supply depots would make up any lack that may occur.

French forces crossed the Nieman River out of Poland on 24 June 1812. Napoleons traditionally excellent intelligence corps served him well, and he marched between two widely separated Russian armies. From the beginning, however, weather was a problem. Unusual heat sapped the strength of the men and horses, and the cavalry was also plagued by an epidemic of cholic. When Napoleons brother Jerome failed to cut off one of the opposing forces, he was relieved of his command and replaced by the much more reliable Marshal Louis Davout. Davout quickly defeated one of the Russian armies, under General Bagration, keeping him separated from the second force under General Barclay de Tolly. Bagration retreated eastward across the Dnieper River, destroying everything behind him. This scorched-earth policy, retreat and burn, was successfully implemented not only by the Russian army but by the populace as well, who apparently did not embrace French revolutionary principles.

This meant the establishment of more depots than planned, and the resulting garrisons reduced the invasion force. Tolly did as he was told in employing the scorched-earth tactics, but was soon criticized for retreating too quickly and not inflicting enough damage on the invaders. Tolly had in actuality done wonders in effectively slowing the French, losing at Smolensk on 17 August but extricating his army before it was surrounded and destroyed. He was replaced, however, by General Prince Golinishcev-Kutusov, who had been on the losing side of Napoleon's masterpiece victory at Austerlitz in 1805. He was not about to take Napoleon lightly, but pressure from the government and the public demanded a battle, and he grudgingly obliged near tbe small Russian town of Borodino, about 70 miles west of Moscow.
 
 

The Battle of Borodino as depicted by Louis Lejeune. The battle was the largest and bloodiest single-day action of the Napoleonic Wars.
 
 
The Battle
 
The site that Kutusov chose was well suited to defense; about 8 square miles, it was smaller than traditional battlefields of that day. The plain leading up to Borodino lay between two roads, old and new, leading to Moscow from Smolensk, and was somewhat undulating and crossed by numerous small streams with steep banks. The occasional village and forest further impeded an advancing army. Kutusov placed his right flank on the Kalatsha River at the town of Borodino, built the Great Redoubt just southeast of town, and strung the remainder of his forces southward to the town of Utitsa, on the southern road facing a large forest. The center of the line was anchored by the town of Semenovskoi, with smaller redoubts built in front. Thus, it was a good place to make a stand, yet positioned astride the road to Moscow for quick withdrawal if necessary. Kutusov commanded a force of about 120,000 men, which included 17,000 regular cavalry and another 7,000 Cossacks. From end to end, the Russian line ranged 5 miles.

Napoleon arrived on the morning of 5 September 1812, when a stiff fight took place at the advanced Russian position in the town of Schivardino. The Russian force there fell back to the main line at sunset, giving the main force plenty of warning of the French approach.
 
 
 
 
Napoleon's force at this point numbered about 135,000, but his men and horses were tired, and many were sick. Napoleon himself was suffering from a recurrent bladder problem, which may account for the fact that he did not show himself near the front in this battle as he was wont to do. He spent 6 September reconnoi-tering the field and then decided on a frontal assault against the Great Redoubt after first seizing the town of Borodino. His trusted cavalry commander Davout suggested taking 40,000 cavalry in a great sweep around the Russian left flank, but Napoleon demurred: it would take away too many men and the horses were really in no condition for such a move. Having made this decision, Napoleon spent an uneasy night, worrying about the possibility of yet another Russian withdrawal, the news of a major defeat of his forces at Salamanca in Spain, and his own physical problems.
The battle opened with a French artillery barrage at 0600. Napoleon hoped that this would loosen up the defense sufficiently for his cavalry to charge. That would force the Russian infantry into defensive squares, which would make them easier targets for the light artillery that advanced with the cavalry. After pulverizing the squares, the infantry should take the ground, and the cavalry reserves should provoke a rout. That was the plan, but the Russians proved remarkably uncooperative. Although within an hour the French forces captured the towns anchoring both flanks, the Russians refused to be dismayed. The Great Redoubt proved unassailable, and the French moved their men from Borodino, on the north bank of the Kalatsha, across the river to support the attack. That move convinced Kutusov that his right flank would not be turned, so he rapidly transferred troops from that flank to the fighting around Utitsa on his left flank.
  All along the front, the French made progress, but it was slow and costly. The Russians stubbornly defended their smaller redoubts in the center, and the arrival of Russians from the right to the left flank forced the French to withdraw temporarily from Utitsa. At several points during the day, a commitment of reserves at a particular point would have carried the day, but oddly Napoleon refused to commit the Old Guard, the core of veterans upon whom he had always depended for the killing blow in the past. That refusal probably cost him the major victory he desired.

By midday the Russians were slowly being pushed back, but Kutusov threw his Cossacks and 5,000 other cavalry at Borodino, now only lightly held. That move stopped a French offensive, but, after the town was regained, the storming of the Great Redoubt recommenced. The pressure of the infantry assault on the front so occupied the Russians that they failed to see until too late the flanking cavalry attack that entered the rear of the Redoubt and killed all the defenders.

Napoleon committed his cavalry reserves, hoping the loss of the Redoubt would break Russian morale, but a well-timed Russian spoiling attack with their own cavalry covered the measured Russian withdrawal. Napoleon now held the lines that the Russians had defended all day, and the enemy was retreating from before him, but he was amazed when they stopped at a ridgeline immediately to the rear and prepared themselves for more fighting.
The sun was setting, so Napoleon decided to stand pat. He later wrote in his memoirs, "The most terrible of all my battles was the one before Moscow.
The French showed themselves worthy of victory, but the Russians showed themselves worthy of being invincible" (Markham, Napoleon, p. 194).
 
 

M. I. Kutuzov and his staff in the meeting at Fili village, when Kutuzov decided that the Russian army had to retreat from Moscow.
 
 
Results
 
Kutusov decided against testing that invincibility, and withdrew his army in the darkness. The battle at Borodino cost both sides unusually high numbers of casualties: the French lost 30,000 dead and wounded, the Russians 44,000. Only a few hundred Russians were taken prisoner. It was the most expensive day, in terms of human life, of any battle in the nineteenth century. Among the French casualties were forty-seven generals and thirty-two staff officers; die Russian losses were much die same.
Kutusov, before that withdrawal, held a council in die town of Gorky and informed his subordinates diat he would not fight for Moscow, but withdraw past the city. This he did, as did almost all the inhabitants. When French forces entered Moscow on 14 September, the city was empty but for a few prisoners escaping from jails. Those prisoners almost certainly included some disguised Russian soldiers, whose duty it was to deny the religious center of Russia to the French, just as supplies had been denied them ever since diey crossed out of Poland. Within a matter of hours, much of the city was ablaze, including the Kremlin. Within 4 days, litde of the city remained. The French emperor sent messages demanding surrender of the country, but Czar Alexander in St. Petersburg did not respond. Soon, the Russian winter approached.
Unable to stay in the smoking ruins of Moscow, Napoleon ordered his men back to Poland. He has been criticized for pressing his conquest past Smolensk and for not wintering there, but his supply lines were too long even at that point, and die scorched earth meant that he could not live off the land. No sooner had he turned around from Moscow than the Russians did likewise, and the harassment started immediately. Not a day went by that Russian cavalry and Cossacks did not pick off stragglers or entire units separated from the main body. The winter hit early and then teasingly warmed sufficiendy for the Beresina River to uncharacteristically remain unfrozen. That meant that the French had to cross the frigid river across two hastily constructed bridges, but possibly 10,000 soldiers and camp followers died at Cossack hands when the bridges collapsed and left them stranded.
  Napoleon marched for the French-held city of Vilna, capital of Lithuania, but again the winter bore down on his men. Some accounts place the temperature as low as -32 degrees centigrade. Reports reached Napoleon that a coup against his regime had just been suppressed, the plotters claiming that he had died in Russia. To reestablish his authority and quell such rumors, he abandoned his army and made haste for Paris, arriving there 18 December. The final remnants of his army crossed the Nieman River back into Poland 4 days earlier; they numbered between 5,000 and 13,000 men of the original huge force that had crossed the river eastward 6 months earlier.

Borodino marked the beginning of the end for Napoleon. His trademark aggressiveness and surprise were not apparent on 7 September and would show themselves only on rare occasion afterward. His arrival in Paris quashed any nascent plots against him, and he had another army in the works by the time word of the disaster in Russia reached France. His army was now young and untrained, with only a few veterans transferred from the Spanish theater to stiffen the ranks. The blow to his prestige inspired the nations that he had so long dominated to rise up and join forces against him, and the following October at Leipzig he would be defeated by that newly formed coalition. Too many enemies and too few troops spelled his doom.

The Russians rightly venerate the battle at Borodino, but even more so feel secure in the complicity of Nature in defending Russia. Napoleon failed to learn the lesson winter had taught to King Charles XII of Sweden, just as Adolph Hitler failed to learn the same lesson 130 years later. However, 1812 seems the anniversary that the Russians recall most, perhaps because the world can appreciate the victory as well via Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace and Pyotr Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture. Thus, "It is quite possible that the French retreat from Moscow is the best-known military disaster in recorded human history. The scale is epic, the suffering incalculable, the outcome catastrophic" (Chandler, On the Napoleonic Wars, p. 205).
 
 
 
1812
 
 
Kutuzov Mikhail
 
Mikhail Illarionovich, Prince Kutuzov, original name Mikhail Illarionovich Golenishchev-Kutuzov (born September 5 [September 16, New Style], 1745, St. Petersburg, Russia—died April 16 [April 28], 1813, Bunzlau, Silesia [now Bolesławiec, Poland]), Russian army commander who repelled Napoleon’s invasion of Russia (1812).
 

Field Marshal Mikhail Illarionovich Kutuzov
  The son of a lieutenant general who had served in Peter the Great’s army, Kutuzov attended the military engineering school at age 12 and entered the Russian army as a corporal when he was only 14. He gained combat experience fighting in Poland (1764–69) and against the Turks (1770–74), and he learned strategic and tactical techniques from General Aleksandr Suvorov, whom he served for six years in Crimea. He was promoted to colonel in 1777 and by 1784 had become a major general.
Although he had received a severe head wound and lost an eye in 1774, he actively participated in the Russo-Turkish War of 1787–91, in which he was again severely wounded. After the war he held a variety of high diplomatic and administrative posts, but he fell into disgrace in 1802 and retired to his country estate. When Russia joined the third coalition against Napoleon three years later, however, Emperor Alexander I recalled Kutuzov and gave him command of the joint Russian-Austrian army that opposed the French advance on Vienna. Before Kutuzov’s force could link up with the Austrians, however, Napoleon defeated the latter at the Battle of Ulm. Kutuzov skillfully retreated after defeating the French at Dürrenstein on November 11, 1805, and preserved his army intact. He proposed to fall back to the Russian frontier and await reinforcements, but Alexander overruled him and engaged the French army in battle at Austerlitz (December 2), suffering a disastrous defeat. Kutuzov was partly blamed for the disaster and was removed from his command. Subsequently Alexander returned Kutuzov to active duty as commander of an army in Moldavia after war had again broken out with Turkey.
 
 
Kutuzov inflicted several defeats on the Turks and on May 28, 1812, concluded a Russo-Turkish peace settlement favourable to Russia (Treaty of Bucharest).

In June 1812 Napoleon’s army entered Russia, and the Russians fell back before him. Under pressure of public opinion, Alexander on August 9 appointed Kutuzov commander in chief of all the Russian forces and, on the following day, made him a prince. Napoleon sought a general engagement, but Kutuzov’s strategy was to wear down the French by incessant minor engagements while retreating and preserving his army. Under public pressure and against his better judgment, however, he fought a major battle at Borodino on September 7. Although the battle itself was inconclusive, Kutuzov lost almost half his troops and afterward withdrew to the southeast, allowing the French forces to enter Moscow.

Napoleon, having failed to make peace with the Russians and being unwilling to spend the winter in Moscow, left the city in October. He tried to move southwestward, but Kutuzov blocked his attempt to proceed along the fertile, southern route by giving battle at Maloyaroslavets (October 19). By forcing the disintegrating French army to leave Russia by the path it had devastated when it entered the country, Kutuzov destroyed his opponent without fighting another major battle. Kutuzov’s troops harried the retreating French, engaging them at Vyazma and Krasnoye, and the remnants of Napoleon’s army narrowly escaped annihilation at the crossing of the Berezina River in late November. In January 1813 Kutuzov pursued the French into Poland and Prussia, where he died of disease.

Kutuzov was the finest Russian commander of his day next to Suvorov himself. He typically relied on quick maneuvers and sought to avoid unnecessary battles, husbanding his forces to strike at the proper moment.

Encyclopædia Britannica
 
 
 
1812
 
 
Conspiracy of General Claude Francois Malet (b. 1754) against Napoleon during the emperor's absence in Russia; attempt to end war and install Louis XVIII fails; Malet executed
 
 
Malet Claude-François
 

Claude-François de Malet, (born June 28, 1754, Dole, France—died October 29, 1812, Paris), French general who conspired against Napoleon and attempted an almost successful coup d’état on October 22–23, 1812.

 

Claude-François de Malet
  The descendant of a noble family, Malet had his first military experience with the king’s musketeers in 1771; when the Revolution broke out, he enthusiastically supported it, though he was disinherited for his open apostasy.

He joined the Revolutionary army in 1791 and was aide-de-camp to General Charles de Hesse, serving on the Rhine.

His military career for the next eight years was uneventful, but in August 1799 he was sent to defend the Little St. Bernard Pass in southeastern France and was promoted to the rank of brigadier general for distinguished service.

An ardent republican, Malet accepted Napoleon’s proclamation of the empire in May 1804 with great reluctance.

After 1805 he served in Italy but was cashiered in May 1808 for dealing on the black market.

The following year he was imprisoned in Paris on suspicion of belonging to an anti-Bonapartist secret society, the Philadelphes.

From July 1810 he was kept under house arrest in Paris, but he escaped on the night of October 22–23, 1812.

 
 
Assuming the identity of “Général Lamotte,” he went to the barracks of the Second Paris Guard and proclaimed that Napoleon had died in Russia and that he had been named commandant of Paris by a “provisional government.”

The Guards believed him, and he was able to secure the release from prison of two prorepublican generals and to shoot the governor of Paris before being arrested.
 
 

Execution of Malet and his accomplices
 
 
A few days later Malet was court-martialed and shot. His conspiracy, which came very close to success, deeply disturbed Napoleon, who hastened his return from Russia.

Encyclopædia Britannica

 
 
 
     
 
Napoleon I

Napoleonic Wars (1803–1815)
     
 
 
 
1812
 
 
Louisiana becomes a state of the U.S.
 
 
Louisiana
 

Louisiana, constituent state of the United States of America. It is delineated from its neighbours—Arkansas to the north, Mississippi to the east, and Texas to the west—by both natural and man-made boundaries. The Gulf of Mexico lies to the south. The area of Louisiana includes more than 3,000 square miles (7,770 square km) of inland waters. The capital is Baton Rouge.

 
Admitted to the union in 1812 as the 18th state, Louisiana commands a once strategically vital region where the waters of the great Mississippi-Missouri river system, draining the continental interior of North America, flow out into the warm, northward-curving crescent of the Gulf of Mexico. It is not surprising that seven flags have flown over its territories since 1682, when the explorer René-Robert Cavelier, sieur (lord) de La Salle, placed a wooden cross in the ground and claimed the territory in the name of France’s Louis XIV. The consequent varieties of cultural heritage run like bright threads through many facets of the social, political, and artistic life of the state.

With parts of its land lying farther south than any portion of the continental United States except southern Texas and the Florida peninsula, and with New Orleans, its largest city, lying on roughly the same parallel as Cairo, New Delhi, and Shanghai, Louisiana owes much of its complex personality to its geographic position. The subtropical climate of the state has provided the magnificent brooding scenery of the coastal bayous, and the lush, dank vegetation of its shores conceals a wealth of petroleum and natural gas. The fertile soil covering much of the terrain made Louisiana a rich agricultural area by 1860, with flourishing sugarcane and cotton plantations. A lumber boom occurred at the turn of the 20th century, and Louisiana underwent rapid industrialization after World War II. Mineral output is great, and the state ranks among the country’s leaders in oil and gas production.

 
St. Louis Cathedral in the French Quarter of New Orleans, La.
 
 
But progress has not been without its tragic and turbulent aspects: bitter territorial disputes and violent internal struggles for political power impeded the social and economic development of the state and crippled many of its political institutions. The wealth of the plantations was accumulated through the extensive use of slaves, whose descendants comprise nearly one-third of Louisiana’s population and whose culture has contributed much to the social fabric of the state. Racial conflict marked the development of the state from the American Civil War period (1861–65) and Reconstruction (1865–77) through the civil rights movement of the 1950s and ’60s. The guarantee of suffrage (through the Voting Rights Act [1965]) and ever-increasing African American political involvement, however, have helped move the state toward being a more racially egalitarian society.

Since the 1960s the state’s economy, tied closely to the fluctuating oil industry, has experienced slower economic growth and less diversification than many other Southern states. More recently, corruption in state politics and an explosion of crime in the New Orleans area have marred that city’s colourful image. Although the rich cultural heritage of the state is still enjoyed by many, tourism declined precipitously and businesses and residents suffered major losses after Hurricane Katrina devastated parts of the Gulf Coast (including New Orleans and other parts of Louisiana) in August 2005. Area 47,632 square miles (123,366 square km). Population (2010) 4,533,372; (2013 est.) 4,625,470.

 
 

Map of Louisiana
 
 
History
Early settlement

Thousands of years before European exploration, various indigenous peoples occupied the region that later became Louisiana. There are prehistoric Indian archaeological sites, most notably of the Woodland culture at Poverty Point (designated both a state historic site and a national monument) and the Mississippian culture at Marksville (also a state historic site). Most Louisiana peoples lived in hunting and gathering camps in the uplands and coastal prairies, though there were farming villages in the rich low-lying areas known as bottoms. It is estimated that the native population was about 15,000 in the area when settlement by Europeans began during the 1700s. By 1980 only about one-fifth as many Native Americans remained. The heritage of Louisiana’s original inhabitants is present in the many Native American place-names that lend colour to the state’s map.

The first European known to have explored present-day Louisiana was the Spaniard Hernando de Soto in 1541, but it was the French who later colonized the region. Serious colonization by France began in 1702, when Pierre Le Moyne d’Iberville and his brother Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville struggled to found permanent settlements. The city of New Orleans was established by Bienville in 1718. Royal charters covering the area had been granted, first to French merchant Antoine Crozat in 1712 and then in 1717 to the Scottish businessman John Law, whose Company of the West failed in 1720. When Louisiana became a French crown colony in 1731, its population had grown from fewer than 1,000 to nearly 8,000, including slaves. In addition to the French settlers, many thousands of Germans arrived, settling on the river just above New Orleans on what became known as the German Coast. Colonization increased again during the 1760s with the arrival of the French-speaking Acadians, who had been expelled from Nova Scotia by the British.

In 1762 Louisiana and New Orleans were ceded to Spain by a secret treaty that was to establish nearly four decades of Spanish rule and influence in the area. In 1779 the Spanish wrested Baton Rouge from the British and took all of West Florida, which then extended from the peninsula westward across the Gulf Coast to the Mississippi River. In 1800 the Spanish returned Louisiana to France, and three years later the United States, under the leadership of Pres. Thomas Jefferson, bought Louisiana from the French emperor Napoleon I. The Louisiana Purchase, a vast acquisition of land for the country, included New Orleans and much of present-day Louisiana state, as well as most of the territory between the Mississippi River and the Rocky Mountains.

  The 19th century
Louisiana was subsequently divided into the Territory of Orleans, which consisted essentially of the state within its present boundaries, and the Territory of Louisiana, which included all the vast area drained by the Mississippi and Missouri rivers. In 1810 the Territory of Orleans consisted of 77,000 people, and statehood proposals were beginning to be heard. When in 1812 the territory petitioned to enter the union, the eastern region now called the Florida Parishes—where the people had rebelled against the Spanish and established the Republic of West Florida—was included. On April 30, 1812, Louisiana entered the union as the 18th state. Between December 1814 and January 1815, New Orleans was the site of the final battle of the War of 1812, in which U.S. troops led by Gen. Andrew Jackson defeated the British.

After the war, settlers from the east rushed to New Orleans and other areas of the young state. New Orleans also became home to thousands of newly arrived immigrants from the West Indies, Germany, and Ireland. As the upper reaches of the Mississippi valley became more populated in the first half of the 19th century, New Orleans grew and prospered as the main trading centre of the western United States. Large amounts of grain, cotton, and meat came to New Orleans via steamboats on the rivers, and the city’s merchants sold upriver a wide variety of goods that they imported into the city.

An agricultural boom took place, and cotton and sugarcane production expanded. Both crops were cultivated primarily by slaves of African descent, and a wealthy plantation society emerged. Small farmers’ opposition to planters was apparent in Louisiana state politics, especially after settlement expanded in the hilly northwestern part of the state. Overall, the planters generally prevailed. Many Louisianans were uncertain about secession in 1860, but the state did join the Confederate States of America in 1861 as one of the original seven states in that union.

Southern Louisiana’s separation from the Union was short-lived, and by May 1, 1862, New Orleans was occupied by Union army forces under Gen. Benjamin F. Butler. The general, intolerant of the lack of cooperation that he received from some Louisianans in the occupied state, had at least one dissident hanged, his intention being to make local residents see clearly the costs of war. Soon Pres. Abraham Lincoln was encouraging the creation of a pro-U.S. state government in Louisiana so that it could reenter the union. Among the controversial issues was whether to give the state’s African Americans the right to vote as part of a reconstructed Louisiana, a decision that Lincoln ultimately approved. Despite much debate and controversy, however, the state failed to rejoin the union until after the war ended.

 
 

Gulf Intracoastal Waterway in Louisiana near New Orleans
 
 
Wartime Louisiana foreshadowed the problems of emancipation and Reconstruction that awaited the rest of the South in the postwar period. In the years immediately following the war, ex-Confederates won control of the state government and instituted policies that severely limited the rights of newly freed slaves. However, with the official advent of Reconstruction in 1867, which brought U.S. control over state political matters, a new constitution was written that protected the political rights of African Americans. Louisiana was finally readmitted into the union in 1868.

Political conflict occurred between the Republicans who were centred in New Orleans and the former Confederates from the rural parishes. Although they would soon dominate the Democratic Party, during the time between 1868 and 1876 the former Confederates relied heavily on extralegal terrorism that was organized by such groups as the Ku Klux Klan (KKK), the White Camellia, and the White League—all of which worked to create mayhem for the Republicans. They frequently murdered Republican candidates and officeholders. The U.S. army was the only force that was able to counter such terrorism. When the army was finally withdrawn from Louisiana in 1877 as part of a bargain to settle the contested presidential election of 1876, the anti-black, anti-Republican Louisianans secured their power in state politics. A new constitution was enacted in 1898 that disenfranchised nearly all African Americans, and a system of legalized discrimination, in the form of segregation, ensued shortly thereafter.

The plantation economy was re-created after the Civil War, but many small farmers, white and black alike, were unable either to buy land or to hold onto what they originally owned and were thus forced into sharecropping or tenancy. Agrarian protests that emerged during the 1880s and ’90s produced the People’s (Populist) Party and what seemed at the time to be a chance to overthrow the state’s planter-merchant-lawyer rule. By the early 20th century, however, the elite were able to defeat the reform movement of the farmers and solidify conservative rule in Louisiana.

 
 
Louisiana since c. 1900
Louisiana’s economy began to diversify significantly in the late 1800s with the emergence of a large timber industry, which continued as a major part of the state’s economy into the 21st century. Extensive lumbering attracted large corporations to Louisiana for three decades following 1890, and the discovery of oil and gas reserves helped to increase industrial development. The conservative political leadership of the state refused to tax the extractive industries heavily, however, and the controversy that ensued helped propel the rise of the left-wing demagogue Huey Long, who was elected governor and then senator beginning in the late 1920s. Through a ruthless political machine that he tightly controlled, Long dominated virtually every public decision made at the state level until his assassination in 1935. With the support of the rural areas and the emerging working class, Long’s administration raised welfare benefits and educational services and built many new bridges, roads, and hospitals. Long’s political allies and his brother, Earl K. Long (elected governor in 1948 and 1956), perpetuated his liberal spending policies, and his legacy of public benefits financed by increased taxation has continued to some extent to the present day. During and after World War II, Louisiana experienced significant new economic development, which was heavily concentrated in the petrochemical industry and increasingly concerned with offshore oil and natural gas drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.
 
Free woman of color with quadroon daughter; late 18th-century collage painting, New Orleans.
 
 
The growth of the petrochemical industry raised the overall prosperity of the state after 1940 and contributed heavily to a significant increase in personal income among state residents. In the 1930s and ’40s, African Americans in Louisiana, led by a well-educated middle-class group of New Orleaners, began to challenge the entrenched system of segregation, mainly by arguing against discrimination in the courts. Black Louisianans rose up against segregation more forcefully in the 1960s as part of the nationwide civil rights movement.

Louisiana’s politics, although more open since the 1960s, have hardly lost their colourful, controversial character. The Republican Party has become more competitive in state politics, as evidenced by the election of Republican governors and members of Congress and the state legislature. One Republican, David Duke—an avowed white supremacist and former head of the KKK—was elected to a term (1989–93) in the Louisiana House of Representatives and has run for other state and federal offices. Edwin W. Edwards, a flamboyant Democrat who was elected governor four times between 1972 and 1992, enacted liberal policies but was often accused of public corruption; although acquitted of charges in the 1980s, he was convicted in 2000 of racketeering, fraud, and extortion.

Since the 1970s Louisiana’s economy has often sputtered, a reflection of its overdependence on the oil industry, which has tended to tie the state to boom-and-bust cycles. The state also failed to diversify into other industrial activities as fast as some other Southern states, and its service sector has lacked the dynamism of various neighbouring states on the Gulf Coast. The damage and devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina in August 2005 severely affected the state’s economy and infrastructure—notably in southern Louisiana—although oil and gas extraction did rebound relatively quickly. After the disaster, the state began to rebuild and repair the affected areas with support from the federal government and a plethora of local and national organizations. Louisiana also introduced incentives to revitalize tourism, notably in the New Orleans area.

Perry H. Howard
Robert J. Norrell

In April 2010 calamity again befell the state when a deepwater oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico, about 50 miles (80 km) southeast of the Louisiana coast, exploded, burned, and then collapsed, creating a rapidly spreading oil spill. The spill encroached upon the shores of Louisiana and other Gulf states and put into jeopardy wildlife and the region’s large fishing industry.

Encyclopædia Britannica

 
 
see also: Louisiana Purchase
 
 
     
 



World Countries



United States of America
     
 
 
 
1812
 
 
Brit. Prime Minister Spencer Perceval assassinated in the House of Commons
 
 
Perceval Spencer
 

Spencer Perceval, (born Nov. 1, 1762, London, Eng.—died May 11, 1812, London), lawyer, politician, and British prime minister from 1809 until his assassination in 1812.

 

Spencer Perceval
  The second son of the 2nd Earl of Egmont, Perceval was educated at Harrow and at Trinity College, Cambridge. He was called to the bar by Lincoln’s Inn in 1786 and became a king’s counsel in 1796. In that same year he entered Parliament, where his rise to power was facilitated through his contacts with William Pitt the Younger. On the formation of the government of Henry Addington (1801–04), which succeeded that of Pitt, he was appointed solicitor general. From 1802 and through Pitt’s second administration (1804–06) he was attorney general.

When King George III dismissed William Grenville’s ministry in March 1807, Perceval, an ardent opponent of Catholic emancipation, became chancellor of the Exchequer and chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster under the 3rd Duke of Portland, whom he succeeded as prime minister on Oct. 4, 1809. His administration was marked by strong opposition to the tolerant views that had ruined his predecessors; and he is one of the few English statesmen of the period notorious for his extreme religious intolerance. He was a man of a cold, ungenial nature. Perceval was shot and killed in the House of Commons by John Bellingham, a deranged man who had vainly applied to him for redress of a personal complaint against the government.

Encyclopædia Britannica

 
 

A painting depicting the assassination of Perceval.
Perceval is lying on the ground while his assassin, John Bellingham,
is surrendering to officials (far right)
 
 
 

 
 
CONTENTS
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