28 July, 1812

Despite 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.

It 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.

Leaving behind a soon-to-be overrun rearguard at Vitebsk, the main Russian body eluded Bonaparte's net.







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