On the march with the French


1812 Invasion of Russia
French Command Structure
Russian Command Structure

On the Road with the Grande Armee
Map of the first stages of the Great Retreat

Map of the last stages of the Great Retreat
Jean-Roch Coignet's Description of the Retreat
Coignet's Brush With Cossacks

For the invasion of Russia, Napoleon Bonaparte assembled the largest army seen in Europe. More than 650,000 men from France and its allies, backed by 1000 cannons, marched through Eastern Europe and into Russia ready to teach Tsar Alexander a lesson.

Leaving behind more than 200,000 men on the border with Russia, the emperor advanced at the head of a 400,000-man army.

The French troops were seasoned, confident men, while the Allies - who made up half of the force - varied in both quality and morale.

They were men from Poland, Saxony, Italy, Bavaria, Hesse, Holland, Spain, Portugal, Westphalia, Wurtemberg, Baden, Switzerland, Croatia, Berg, Naples and Mecklenberg. There were even Austrians and Prussians among them.

The preparations were nothing short of astounding as the French organised enough provisions to sustain an army of 400,000 men - and 150,000 horses - for 50 days.

1500 wagons were needed to carry the load - some 20 million rations of rice and bread - and some 50,000 draft horses were used to transport the materials.


Basic Supplies
Quintals* Bottles
Wheat 270,000
Rice 12,000
Oats 2 million
Wine 28 million
Brandy 2 million
*1 Quintal equals 100 pounds 45 kilos




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