Russians mark 200 years of Battle of Borodino

In this September 1, 2012 photo, members of historic clubs wearing 1812-era uniforms perform during a rehearsal of a staged battle re-enactment to mark the 200th anniversary of the battle of Borodino, in Borodino, about 110 km west of Moscow   | Photo Credit: Mikhail Metzel

Two hundred years after the Russia Army fought Napoleon’s invaders at Borodino at the gates of Moscow thousands of French and Russian history buffs recreated the famous battle in a colourful show that drew 100,000 spectators.

Members of 130 historical clubs from many European countries, the United States and Canada dressed as Russian and French soldiers on Sunday re-enacted main episodes of the famous battle, which marked the beginning of the end of the Napoleon Bonaparte’s Grand Armee.

Batteries of cannon exchanged fire, infantry formations charged forward, cavalry swept across the battlefield to the crackle of musket fire.

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, former French President Valery Giscard d'Estaing and many other foreign dignitaries watched the performance.

It was the bloodiest one-day battle of all wars Napoleon fought, which claimed more than 70,000 lives on both sides. The ferocity of fighting was such that around 8,500 soldiers were killed every hour. The Russians held their ground but their great commander Mikhail Kutuzov ordered the army to pull back the next day to save strength.

“Of the fifty battles I have fought, the most terrible was that before Moscow,” Napoleon later recalled. “The French showed themselves to be worthy victors, and the Russians can rightly call themselves invincible.”

Leo Tolstoy glorified the Battle of Borodino in his monumental novel War and Peace.

The Russians let the Napoleonic army occupy Moscow, which had been almost completely burnt down, but cut his overstretched supply lines and forced him to retreat a month later. The regrouped and reinforced Russian Army then drove Napoleon’s freezing and starved forces out of Russia and all the way to Paris.

The war of 1812 against Napoleon and World War II against Hitler are a major source of pride for Russians.

The two campaigns, known as Great Patriotic Wars in Russia, “were proof of the unparalleled patriotism of our people, who defended our country and guaranteed it the role of a great world power,” Mr. Putin said in his speech ahead of the show.

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Printable version | Mar 9, 2021 1:10:33 PM |

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