28 July, 1812
being desperate to fight a decisive battle with the Russians,
Napoleon Bonaparte decided
to delay attacking the
First Army of the West
near Vitebsk and wait for more men.
was only 24 hours, but this gave the Russian commander Mikhail
Barclay de Tolly - who had just discovered that General
Bagration could not join him with his Second Army -
time to withdraw his troops eastwards.
behind a soon-to-be overrun rearguard at Vitebsk, the main
Russian body eluded Bonaparte's net.