(1st Battle)
17 August, 1812

On the advance to Moscow, Marshal Oudinot was sent to guard the French Grande Armee's left flank and, if he could, bring General Ludwig Wittgenstein's 28,000 men to battle.

Reinforced by General Gouvion St-Cyr, Oudinot's force of 35,000 men then set about hunting down their elusive quarry and finally managed to force combat at Polotsk on the River Dvina.

Oudinot was wounded on the 17th and was so incapacitated he had to hand over command to St-Cyr.

St-Cyr's performance was exemplary - he won his marshal's baton at the battle - and his men threw the Russians back across the river. The army's left flank was now secure.

The French suffered some 6000 casualties, while Wittgenstein lost 5500 men.


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