After the bloody battle at Borodino, the Russian army did not receive the promised reinforcements (in exchange for the soldiers, Kutuzov received a field marshal's baton and 100,000 rubles), and therefore retreat was inevitable. However, the circumstances of the evacuation of Moscow will forever remain a shameful stain on the reputation of the country's top military and civilian leadership. The enemy was left with 156 guns, 74 974 guns, 39 846 sabers, 27 119 gun shells - and this despite the fact that there was not enough weapons and in the Russian army at the end of 1812 it was officially ordered to have 776 guns per battalion (1,000 people) - 200 privates and 24 non-commissioned officers were unarmed. Only in 1815 the number of guns was brought to 900 per battalion. In addition, 608 old Russian banners and more than 1,000 standards were left in Moscow. The Russians have never left such a number of weapons and banners to anyone. At the same time, MI Kutuzov, in his letter dated September 4, swore to the emperor: "All the treasures, the arsenal, and almost all property, both state and private, have been taken out of Moscow." But the worst thing was that 22,500 wounded were left to die in the deserted city, who "were entrusted with the philanthropy of the French troops" (another 10 to 17 thousand were thrown on the way from Borodino to Moscow). "My soul was torn apart by the groan of the wounded, left in the power of the enemy," wrote Ermolov. It is not surprising that all this made an extremely difficult impression on the soldiers of the Russian army:
"The troops are in a state of disrepair", - reports N. N. Raevsky.
"Many tore off their uniforms and did not want to serve after the vilified surrender of Moscow," recalls SI Maevsky, head of Kutuzov's chancellery.
"The escapes of the soldiers … greatly increased after the surrender of Moscow … Four thousand of them were caught in one day" - this is the testimony of the adjutant of Kutuzov, AI Mikhailovsky-Danilevsky.
FV Rostopchin and his secretary A. Ya. Bulgakov write in their memoirs that after the surrender of Moscow, many in the army began to call Kutuzov "the darkest prince". Kutuzov himself left Moscow "so that, as long as possible, not to meet with anyone" (AB Golitsin). On September 2 (14) (the day of the evacuation of Moscow), the commander-in-chief essentially ceased to perform his functions and Barclay de Tolly, who "stayed 18 hours without getting off his horse, was watching the order of the passage of troops."
At the council in Fili, Kutuzov ordered "to retreat along the Ryazan road." From September 2 to 5 (14-17), the army followed this order, however, on the night of September 6 (18), a new order from the commander-in-chief was received, according to which one Cossack regiment continued to move in the same direction, while the rest of the army turned to Podolsk and further along the Kaluga road to the south. Clausewitz wrote that "the Russian army (maneuver) performed perfectly … with tremendous benefit for itself." Napoleon himself on the island of St. Helena admitted that the "old fox Kutuzov" then "well deceived him" and called this maneuver of the Russian army "wonderful". The honor of the idea of the "flank march" is attributed to Bagration, Barclay de Tolly, Bennigsen, Tol and many others, which speaks only of the naturalness of movement in this direction: the idea was "in the air." In the novel "War and Peace" Leo Tolstoy wrote with some irony: the side on which there was more food and the edge was more abundant. This movement … was so natural that the marauders of the Russian army fled in this very direction. "The" flank march "ended near the village of Tarutino, where Kutuzov led about 87 thousand soldiers, 14 thousand Cossacks and 622 guns. Alas, as Bagration predicted., the top leadership of the Russian army was divided here into parties and groups that spent their time in fruitless and harmful intrigues.
"Where is this fool? Redhead? Coward?" - shouted Kutuzov, pretending to have forgotten the necessary surname on purpose and is trying to remember. When they decided to tell him whether he was referring to Bennigsen, the field marshal replied: "Yes, yes, yes!" So it was just on the day of the Battle of Tarutino. The story of Bagration and Barclay was repeated before the eyes of the whole army ", - E. Tarle complained about this.
"Barclay … saw the discord between Kutuzov and Bennigsen, but did not support either one or the other, equally condemning both -" two weak old men ", one of whom (Kutuzov) was in his eyes a" loafer ", and the other - a" robber ".
“Barclay and Bennigsen were at enmity from the very beginning of the war, all the time. Kutuzov, on the other hand, took the position of the“third rejoicing”in relation to them, - wrote N. Troitsky.
"I hardly go to the Main Apartment … there are intrigues of parties, envy, anger, and even more … selfishness, despite the circumstances of Russia, about which no one cares," wrote N. N. Raevsky.
"The intrigues were endless," recalled A. P. Ermolov.
"Everything that I see (in the Tarutino camp) inspires me with utter disgust," DS Dokhturov agrees with them. Recognized by his contemporaries as a great master of intrigue, Kutuzov remained the winner here too, forcing first Barclay de Tolly and then Bennigsen to leave the army. Barclay left on September 22 (October 4), 1812. He had every right to tell Levenshtern: “I handed over to the Field Marshal the army preserved, well-dressed, armed and not demoralized … The Field Marshal does not want to share with anyone the glory of expelling the enemy from the sacred land of our Fatherland …. I brought the carriage up the mountain, and he will roll down the mountain himself with a little guidance."
Nevertheless, the mobilization services of the Russian army worked regularly, and by mid-October Kutuzov had about 130 thousand soldiers and Cossacks, about 120 thousand militias and 622 guns under his command. Napoleon, who was in Moscow, had an army of 116 thousand people. The Russian army felt strong enough and was striving for an offensive. The first test of strength was the battle at the Chernishny River (Battle of Tarutino).
From 12 (24) September 1812, the vanguard of the Great Army (about 20-22 thousand people), under the leadership of Murat, stood idle at the Chernishna river. On October 4 (16), Kutuzov signed the disposition of the attack on Murat's detachment drawn up by Quartermaster General Tol, but Ermolov, wanting to "frame" Konovnitsin, who was the commander-in-chief's favorite, left in an unknown direction. As a result, the next day not a single Russian division was found in the designated places. Kutuzov flew into a rage, brutally insulting two innocent officers. One of them (Lieutenant Colonel Eichen) then left the Kutuzov army. Yermolov, the commander-in-chief ordered to be "expelled from service," but quickly reversed his decision. With a delay of 1 day, the Russian army nevertheless attacked the enemy. The infantry units were late (“You have everything in your language to attack, but you don’t see that we do not know how to do complex maneuvers,” Kutuzov said to Miloradovich on this matter). But the sudden attack of the Orlov-Denisov Cossacks was successful: “One desperate, frightened cry of the first Frenchman who saw the Cossacks, and everything in the camp, undressed, sleepily, threw guns, rifles, horses, and ran anywhere. If the Cossacks were chasing the French, not paying attention to what was behind and around them, they would have taken Murat and everything that was there. The bosses wanted this. Tolstoy).
As a result of the loss of the pace of the attack, the French came to their senses, lined up for battle and met the approaching Russian jaeger regiments with such dense fire that, having lost several hundred people, including General Baggovut, the infantry turned back. Murat slowly and with dignity withdrew his troops across the river Chernishna to the Spas-Kuplea. Believing that a massive attack of the retreating enemy would lead to its complete destruction, Bennigsen asked Kutuzov to allocate troops for pursuit. However, the commander-in-chief refused: "They did not know how to take Murat alive in the morning and arrive at the place on time, now there is nothing to do," he said. In this situation, Kutuzov was absolutely right.
The Battle of Tarutino is traditionally highly regarded in Russian historical literature. OV Orlik in the monograph "The Thunderstorm of the Twelfth Year" went, perhaps, the farthest, equating it in importance to the battle on the Kulikovo field (1380). However, the insignificance of success was recognized even at the headquarters of the commander-in-chief. So P. P. Konovnitsin believed that since Murat "was given the opportunity to retreat in order with little loss … no one deserves a reward for this deed."
Napoleon spent 36 days in Moscow (from September 2 to October 7 according to the old style). The marshals advised leaving the city immediately after the start of the fires, and from a military point of view, they were certainly right. However, Napoleon also had his own reasons, who asserted: "Moscow is not a military position, it is a political position." Only after making sure that the proposals for peace from the Russians would not follow, Napoleon returned to his previously rejected plan of a two-stage war: to spend the winter in the western Russian provinces or in Poland in order to start all over again in the spring of 1813. The Grand Army still numbered over 89,000 infantry, about 14,000 cavalry, and about 12,000 non-combatant (sick and wounded) soldiers. The army leaving Moscow was accompanied by from 10 to 15 thousand carts, into which "furs, sugar, tea, books, pictures, actresses of the Moscow theater were crammed at random" (A. Pastore). According to Segur, it all looked like "the Tatar horde after a successful invasion."
Where did Napoleon lead his army? In the Soviet historiography of the post-war years, the opinion was established that Napoleon went "through Kaluga to Ukraine", while Kutuzov, having unraveled the plan of the enemy commander, saved Ukraine from the enemy invasion. However, Napoleon's orders of October 11 (Marshal Victor and Generals Junot and Evers) on the movement to Smolensk are known. A. Colencourt, F.-P. Segur and A. Jomini report about the campaign of the French army to Smolensk in their memoirs. And, it should be admitted that this decision of Napoleon was quite logical and reasonable: after all, it was Smolensk that appointed the emperor as the main base of the Great Army, it was in this city that strategic reserves of food and fodder were to be created. Napoleon entered the Kaluga direction not at all because he did not like the road on which he came to Moscow: with his movement the emperor intended only to cover Smolensk from Kutuzov. Having achieved this goal at Maloyaroslavets, Napoleon did not go "through Kaluga to the Ukraine", but, in accordance with his plan, continued to move to Smolensk.
It is well known that after entering Moscow, Napoleon lost sight of the Russian army for 9 days. Not everyone knows that Kutuzov found himself in a similar situation after Napoleon's retreat from Moscow: the French left the city on October 7 (according to the old style), but only on October 11 the Cossacks from the detachment of Major General I. D. Ilovaisky brought this sensational news to the Russian camp in Tarutino. Due to ignorance of the location of the French army, General Dokhturov's corps almost died. The partisans of Seslavin's detachment saved him from defeat. On October 9, the commander of one of the partisan detachments, Major General I. S. Dorokhov, told Kutuzov that Ornano's cavalry units and Brusier's infantry had entered Fominskoye. Unaware that the whole "Great Army" was following them, Dorokhov asked for help to attack the enemy. The commander-in-chief sent Dokhturov's corps to Fominsky, who, having made a tedious march of many kilometers, arrived in the village of Aristovo the next evening. At dawn on October 11, the Russians were supposed to attack the superior forces of the French, but at midnight Captain A. Seslavin brought the captured non-commissioned officer to Aristovo, who reported that the entire "Great Army" was moving to Maloyaroslavets. Upon receiving this news, Kutuzov, who had lost the enemy army, “shed tears of joy,” and he can be understood: if Napoleon had moved his troops not to Smolensk, but to Petersburg, the Russian commander-in-chief would have awaited a shameful resignation.
"It will remain your responsibility if the enemy is able to dispatch a significant corps to Petersburg … for with the army entrusted to you … you have all the means to ward off this new misfortune," Alexander warned him in a letter dated October 2 (October 14, new style).
Dokhturov's corps, which did not have time to rest, arrived at Maloyaroslavets on time. On October 12 (24), he entered into battle with the Delson division, which had the honor of being the first to start the Battle of Borodino. In this battle, Delson died, and the famous partisan, Major General I. S. Dorokhov received a serious wound (from the consequences of which he died). In the afternoon, they approached Maloyaroslavets and immediately entered into battle the corps of General Raevsky and two divisions from Davout's corps. The main forces of the opponents did not enter the battle: both Napoleon and Kutuzov watched from the sidelines the fierce battle, in which about 30 thousand Russians and 20 thousand French took part. The city passed from hand to hand, according to various sources, from 8 to 13 times, out of 200 houses only 40 survived, the streets were littered with corpses. The battlefield remained with the French, Kutuzov withdrew his troops 2, 7 km to the south and took up a new position there (but in a report to the tsar on October 13, 1812, he said that Maloyaroslavets remained with the Russians). On October 14, both the Russian and French armies retreated from Maloyaroslavets almost simultaneously. Kutuzov led his troops to the village of Detchino and Polotnyanoy Zavod, and, according to the recollections of his contemporaries, he was ready to continue the retreat even beyond Kaluga (“Kaluga is waiting for the fate of Moscow,” Kutuzov said to his entourage). Napoleon issued an order: "We went to attack the enemy … But Kutuzov retreated in front of us … and the emperor decided to turn back." Then he led his army to Smolensk.
It should be admitted that from a tactical point of view, the battle for Maloyaroslavets, which Kutuzov put on a par with the Battle of Borodino, was lost by the Russian army. But it was about him that Segur would later say to the veterans of the Great Army: "Do you remember this ill-fated battlefield, where the conquest of the world stopped, where 20 years of continuous victories crumbled to dust, where the great collapse of our happiness began?" At Maloyaroslavets, Napoleon for the first time in his life refused a general battle and for the first time voluntarily turned his back on the enemy. Academician Tarle believed that it was from Maloyaroslavets, and not from Moscow, that the true retreat of the Great Army began.
Meanwhile, due to the unexpected retreat of Kutuzov, the Russian army lost contact with Napoleon's army and overtook it only at Vyazma. Napoleon himself on October 20 told A. Colencourt that "he could not understand the tactics of Kutuzov, who left us in complete peace." However, already on October 21, Miloradovich's detachment entered the old Smolensk road before the troops of Beauharnais, Poniatovsky and Davout passed along it. He missed the first of them in order to be able to attack Davout's corps with superior forces. However, the "Great Army" at that time was still great, Beauharnais and Poniatowski turned their troops back, while Kutuzov once again refused to send reinforcements: at the insistence of all significant persons of the Main Apartment, he remained an indifferent spectator of this battle … He did not want to risk it and preferred to be censured by the entire army, "General V. I. Levenshtern, close to Kutuzov, recalled.
"It is better to build a" golden bridge "for the enemy than to let him break off the chain," - this is how Kutuzov explained his tactics to the British commissar R. Wilson.
Nevertheless, at Vyazma, the French losses were several times greater than those of the Russians. Thus began the famous parallel march: “This maneuver was remarkably correct for him (Kutuzov),” wrote Jomini, “he kept the French army under constant threat to overtake it and cut off the retreat path. recreation.
After the battle at Vyazma, frosts began, and "the vanguard of our most powerful ally, General Frost," (R. Wilson) appeared. The Russian memoirist SN Glinka also called Kutuzov's auxiliary army "frosts". that it was impossible to repel the enemy with our bare hands, and they shamelessly used this opportunity to enrich themselves, "recalled AD Bestuzhev-Ryumin.
Even Tsarevich Konstantin Pavlovich did not consider it shameful to cash in on the Russian army: in the fall of 1812 he sold 126 horses to the Yekaterinoslav regiment, 45 of which turned out to be "Zapaty" and "were shot immediately so as not to infect others," "55 unfit were ordered sell for whatever "and only 26 horses were" included in the regiment. " As a result, even the soldiers of the privileged Life Guards of the Semenovsky regiment did not receive short fur coats and felt boots.
“I protected my feet from the frost by stuffing them into the fur hats of the French grenadiers, with which the road was strewn. My hussars suffered terribly … Our infantry was terribly upset. roof, then there was no way to drive them out … we were in poverty no less than the enemy, recalled General Levenshtern.
The food supply for the army was also extremely bad. On November 28, Lieutenant A. V. Chicherin wrote in his diary that "the guards have already been 12 days old, and the army has not received bread for a whole month." Hundreds of Russian soldiers were knocked out daily, not because of injuries, but because of hypothermia, malnutrition and elementary fatigue. Not inclined to upset the tsar with the truth, Kutuzov wrote in a letter to Alexander dated December 7, 1812 that soon the army would be able to catch up with at least 20,000 who recovered. About how many people will never be able to catch up with the army, the field marshal chose not to report. It is estimated that the losses of Napoleon on the way from Moscow to Vilna amounted to approximately 132, 7 thousand people, the losses of the Russian army - at least 120 thousand people. Thus, F. Stendhal had every right to write that "the Russian army arrived in Vilna not in a better shape than the French one." Moving across the enemy army, Russian troops reached the village of Krasnoye, where on November 3-6 (15-18) a number of clashes with the enemy took place. On November 15, the Young Guard, led by General Roge, knocked out of Krasnoye a fairly strong detachment of Russian General Ozhanovsky (22-23 thousand soldiers with 120 guns). On November 16, Napoleon continued to maneuver in an offensive spirit. Here is how the events of those days are described by the sergeant of the French army Bourgogne: "While we were standing in Krasnoye and its environs, an army of 80,000 people surrounded us … everywhere we could see the Russians, obviously hoping to easily defeat us … The Emperor, bored with the pursuit of this horde, decided from After passing through the Russian camp and attacking the village, we forced the enemy to throw part of the artillery into the lake, after which most of their infantry settled in houses, some of which were on fire. the fact that the Russians retreated from their positions, but did not withdraw."
For two days under Red, the emperor awaited news from the "bravest of the brave" - Marshal Ney, who was marching in the rear guard of the Great Army. On November 17, after making sure that Ney's troops were blocked and had no chance of salvation, Napoleon began to withdraw his troops. All the battles near Krasnoye were about the same: Russian troops alternately attacked on the march three corps of the Great Army (Beauharnais, Davout and Ney) as they advanced towards Krasnoye. Each of these corps was surrounded for some time, but all of them came out of the encirclement, losing mainly completely decomposed and incapacitated soldiers. This is how Leo Tolstoy described one of the episodes of this battle in the novel "War and Peace": "I give you guys this column," he (Miloradovich) said, approaching the troops and pointing the cavalrymen at the French. moving horses, urging them on with spurs and sabers, trotting after strong stresses, they drove up to the donated column, that is, to the crowd of frostbitten, numb and hungry French; and the donated column threw down its weapons and surrendered, which it had long wanted. " Denis Davydov paints a similar picture in his memoirs: "The Battle of Krasnoye, which some military writers have called the magnificent name of a three-day battle, can in all fairness be called only a three-day search for hungry, half-naked Frenchmen; insignificant detachments like mine could be proud of such trophies, but not the main army. Whole crowds of the French at one appearance of our small detachments on the high road hurriedly threw down their weapons. " And here is how, according to the descriptions of the same D. Davydov, the famous Old Guard looked like under Red: "Finally, the Old Guard approached, in the midst of which was Napoleon himself … The enemy, seeing our noisy crowd, took his gun on the trigger and proudly continued his way step … I will never forget the free gait and formidable posture of these warriors threatened by all kinds of death … Guards with Napoleon passed in the middle of the crowd of our Cossacks like a ship between fishing boats."
And again, almost all memoirists paint pictures of the weakness and lack of initiative of the leadership of the Russian army, the commander-in-chief of which, by all accounts, was clearly trying to avoid meeting with Napoleon and his guard:
"Kutuzov, for his part, avoiding meeting with Napoleon and his guards, not only did not persistently pursue the enemy, but staying almost in place, was all the time significantly behind" (D. Davydov).
Kutuzov near Krasnoye "acted indecisively, mainly out of fear of meeting face to face with a brilliant commander" (MN Pokrovsky).
The French historian, participant in the campaign to Russia, Georges de Chaombre, believed that under the Reds the French were saved only thanks to the slowness of Kutuzov.
"This elder did only half and it is bad that he so wisely conceived," wrote F.-P. Segur.
The Russian commander-in-chief hardly deserved so many reproaches: the mortally tired, sick man did more than his strength allowed. We have already told what suffering young strong men experienced on the way from Maloyaroslavets to Vilna, but for the old man this path became a cross, after a few months he died.
"Kutuzov believed that the French troops, in the event of a complete cut off their retreat path, could dearly sell the success, which, according to the old field marshal, and without any efforts on our part, is beyond doubt," explained the tactics of the commander-in-chief A. P. Ermolov. And the captured French general M.-L. Pleuibisk recalled that before Berezina, Kutuzov said in a conversation with him: "I, confident in your death, did not want to sacrifice a single soldier for this." However, it is hardly worth taking these words of Kutuzov seriously: the commander-in-chief saw perfectly well that the hardships of the winter path were killing Russian soldiers, or rather enemy bullets. Everyone demanded from Kutuzov swift maneuvers and brilliant results, and he had to somehow explain his "inaction". The truth was that the bulk of the Russian troops were not able to move faster than the French, and, therefore, could not "cut off" or surround them. The main forces of the Russian army could hardly keep up with the pace set by the retreating French, giving the right to attack the remnants of the "Great Army" to light cavalry detachments, which easily captured "non-combatants", but could not cope with the units of the French army that remained combat-ready.
Nevertheless, as A. Z. Manfred put it, after the Red Army "Great Army" "ceased to be not only great, it ceased to be an army." There were no more than 35 thousand people left for combat-ready soldiers, tens of thousands of unarmed and sick people stretched behind this core, stretching for many kilometers.
And what about her? On November 18, not yet knowing that Napoleon had already left Krasnoye, the marshal tried to break through the troops of Miloradovich, Paskevich and Dolgoruky. He had 7-8 thousand combat-ready soldiers, the same number of sick and wounded, and 12 cannons. It was surrounded on all sides, its guns were knocked out, the main forces of the Russian army stood in front, behind - the Dnieper, barely covered with ice. She was offered to surrender: "Field Marshal Kutuzov would not dare to make such a cruel offer to such a famous warrior if he had at least one chance of salvation. But 80 thousand Russians stand in front of him, and if he doubts it, Kutuzov invites him to send someone walk through the Russian ranks and count their strength ", - was written in a letter delivered by the envoy.
"Have you, sir, have you ever heard that the imperial marshals surrendered?" - Ney answered him.
"Move through the forest! - he ordered his troops, - No roads? Move without roads! Go to the Dnieper and cross the Dnieper! The river is not completely frozen yet? Will it freeze! March!"
On the night of November 19, 3,000 soldiers and officers approached the Dnieper, 2,200 of them fell through the ice. The rest, led by Nei, came to the emperor. "She fought like a lion … he had to die, he had no other chance of salvation, except for willpower and a firm desire to keep Napoleon's army … this feat will be forever remembered in the annals of military history," V. I.. Levenstern.
"If the goal of the Russians was to cut off and capture Napoleon and the marshals, and this goal was not only not achieved, and all attempts to achieve this goal were destroyed every time in the most shameful way, then the last period of the campaign is quite rightly represented by the French. a number of victories and it is completely unfair that the Russians seem victorious, "wrote L. Tolstoy.
"Napoleon was ruined by the fact that he decided to wage a victorious war with the Russians. The most surprising thing is that this happened: Napoleon really waged a victorious war with the Russians. Everywhere the Russians retreated, Napoleon won, the Russians left Moscow, Napoleon entered Moscow, the Russians endured defeats, Napoleon suffered victories. It ended with the fact that Napoleon suffered his last victory at the Berezina and rode off to Paris ", - one of the authors of" World History, edited by "Satyricon" A. Averchenko said ironically. So what happened on the Berezina?
On September 8 (according to the old style), the adjutant wing AI Chernyshov brought Kutuzov a plan for the defeat of French troops on the Berezina, drawn up in St. Petersburg. It consisted in the following: the armies of Chichagov (from the south) and Wittgenstein (from the north) were supposed to block the path of the French troops pursued by the Main Army of Kutuzov in the Borisov area. Until mid-November, it really seemed that Napoleon would not be able to leave Russia: on November 4 (16), the vanguard of Admiral P. V. Chichagov captured Minsk, where huge reserves of food, fodder and military equipment awaited the French army. The Cossack regiment of the already familiar Chernyshov was sent to Wittgenstein's army with a message about the victory, and Chichagov had no doubt that his movement towards the Berezina would be supported from the north. On the way, this detachment intercepted 4 couriers sent by Napoleon to Paris and freed the captured General Vincengorod (F. F. in October in Moscow captured by the French). On November 9 (21), Chichagov's army defeated the Polish units of Bronikovsky and Dombrovsky and captured the city of Borisov. The admiral was so confident in the success of the operation that he sent out the signs of Napoleon to the surrounding villages. For "greater reliability" he ordered to catch and bring to him all the little ones. However, on November 11 (23), Oudinot's troops broke into Borisov and almost captured Chichagov himself, who fled to the right bank, leaving "his dinner with silver dishes." However, the admiral still burned the bridge across the Berezina, so the position of the French was still critical - the width of the river in this place was 107 meters. Murat even advised Napoleon to "save himself before it is too late" and secretly flee with a detachment of Poles, which angered the emperor. While 300 soldiers south of Borisov were directing the crossing in full view of the Russian troops, north of this city Napoleon personally supervised the construction of bridges near the village of Studenki. French sappers led by military engineer J.-B. Eble coped with the task: standing up to their throats in icy water, they built two bridges - for infantry and cavalry and for carts and artillery. On November 14 (26), Oudinot's corps was the first to cross to the other side, which immediately entered the battle and, throwing back a small defensive detachment of Russians, allowed the rest of the army to begin crossing. As early as the morning of November 15 (27), Chichagov assumed that the events at Studenka were just a demonstration in order to deceive him, and Wittgenstein on the same day managed to pass by Studenka to Borisov, not finding the crossing of French troops. On this day, the lost division of General Partuno (about 7,000 people) was surrounded and surrendered by the troops of Wittgenstein and the vanguard of Platov. On November 16 (28), the main forces of Platov and the vanguard of Miloradovich approached Borisov, and Chichagov and Wittgenstein finally understood what was happening at Studenka, but it was too late: Napoleon with the Old Guard and other combat-ready units crossed the Berezina the day before. On this day, Wittgenstein's army attacked Victor's corps on the left bank of the Berezina, and Chichagov's army on the right bank struck Oudinot's troops, and so powerfully that Napoleon sent Ney's corps and even the guards into battle. On November 17 (29), Napoleon ordered Victor to cross to the right bank, after which the bridges across the Berezina were set on fire. On the left bank there were about 10,000 sick and practically unarmed people who were soon destroyed or taken prisoner. For Napoleon, they were not only of no value, but were even harmful: every state and every government needs dead heroes, but they absolutely do not need living disabled people who talk about the war in the wrong way and demand all kinds of benefits for themselves. In the twentieth century, the leaders of North Vietnam understood this very well, who sincerely hated the Americans who fought with them, but ordered their snipers not to kill, but to maim US soldiers. Young guys returning home on crutches told such horrors about the war in the impenetrable jungle and water-filled rice fields that the American mobilization services soon had to arrange real rounds up on conscripts evading army service, while the Vietnam War itself was hopelessly compromised among all segments of the US population.
Contemporaries did not consider the crossing of the Berezina to be Napoleon's defeat. J. de Maistre called the Berezinsky operation "just a few loud blows on the tiger's tail." A. Jomini, A. Colencourt, A. Thiers, K. Clausewitz and many others considered it a strategic victory for Napoleon.
"Napoleon gave us the bloodiest battle … The greatest commander achieved his goal. Praise be to him! "- this is how Martos, an engineer officer of Chichagov's army, responded to the events of the last day of the Berezinsky epic.
"For eyewitnesses and participants, the case with Berezina was forever united in memory: Napoleon's strategic victory over the Russians when, it seemed, he was threatened with complete death, and at the same time a terrible picture of the carnage after the transition of the emperor with the guards to the western bank of the river," wrote in 1938 Academician E. V. Tarle. The blame for the failure of the Berezinsky operation was blamed on Admiral Chichagov. "Wittgenstein saved Petersburg, my husband saved Russia, and Chichagov saved Napoleon," even Byron knew about these words of EI Kutuzova. Langeron called the admiral "Napoleon's guardian angel", Zhukovsky "threw out" the entire text about Chichagov from his poem "A Singer in the Camp of Russian Warriors", Derzhavin ridiculed him in an epigram, and Krylov - in the fable "The Pike and the Cat". However, documents indicate that it was Chichagov's troops that inflicted the greatest damage on Napoleon's army: "With the exception of those who laid down their weapons, all the loss of the enemy belongs more to the action of the troops of Admiral Chichagov," reported A. P. Ermolov. The British commissar Wilson reported: "I did not hear from anyone that Admiral Chichagov deserved disapproval. The local situation was such that it did not allow us to go to the enemy. We (that is, Kutuzov and his headquarters, with which Wilson was located) are to blame because that two days were in Krasnoye, two days in Kopys, why the enemy remained free to cross the river. " However, society needed a "scapegoat", but since Kutuzov at that time was already perceived by everyone as "the savior of Russia", and Wittgenstein, who repelled the advance of Oudinot's vanguard against St. Petersburg, was called "the savior of Petropolis" and "the second Suvorov", then a sacrifice to public opinion it was Chichagov who was brought.
The conditions for the retreat of the Napoleonic army from the Berezina to Vilna became even more destructive. It was after the crossing of Napoleon that the most severe frosts hit. The most surprising thing is that even under these conditions the French continued to take Russian prisoners with them, some of whom they brought to Paris. Among them were V. A. Perovsky (great-uncle of the famous Sophia Perovskaya) and private Semyonov, who remained in France, - the ancestor of the no less famous Georges Simenon. November 21, 1812 (old style) Napoleon wrote the last ("funeral") 29 bulletin, in which he admitted his defeat, explaining it by the vicissitudes of the Russian winter. On November 23, the emperor left his army, leaving command of the remnants of the troops to Murat (who in January 1813, in turn, left the army on E. Beauharnais and went to Naples). It should be said right away that Napoleon's departure was not an escape from the army: he did everything he could, the remnants of the army did not stop moving to the border, and already 8 days after the emperor's departure, Marshal Ney was the last of the French to cross the Niemen. "The Emperor Napoleon left the army to go to Paris, where his presence became necessary. Political considerations prevailed over those considerations that could force him to remain at the head of his troops. The most important thing, even in the interests of our army, was to appear alive and more. It was necessary to appear before Germany, which was already hesitating in its intentions … It was necessary to let the troubled and dully worried France, doubtful friends and secret enemies know that Napoleon did not die in the terrible calamity that befell his legions ", - wrote Bourgogne (not only the marshals, but also the sergeants of the French army, it turns out, knew a lot about strategy).
"During these 8 days, nothing threatened Napoleon personally, and his presence could not change anything for the better. The emperor's departure was, from a military-political point of view, necessary for the early creation of a new army," admitted E. Tarle. And it was necessary to create a new army: according to Georges de Chaombre in December 1812. Napoleon had 58, 2 thousand soldiers, of whom only 14 266 people belonged to the central grouping of the "Great Army", the rest were part of the flank groups of J.-E. Macdonald and J.-L. Rainier. Kutuzov brought only 27.5 thousand people to the Neman. At the same time, according to the testimony of all memoirists, the Russian army "lost its appearance" and looked more like a peasant militia than a regular army. Seeing this crowd, marching discordantly and out of step at the parade in Vilno, Grand Duke Konstantin Pavlovich exclaimed indignantly: "They only know how to fight!"
"The war spoils the armies," Alexander I agreed with him, referring to the deterioration of the personnel structure due to losses and replenishment of untrained recruits.
Kutuzov was showered with awards, including the Order of St. George, 1st century, a portrait of Alexander I, studded with diamonds, a golden sword with diamonds and much more. The emperor everywhere emphasized his respect for the commander-in-chief, walked with him "hand in hand", hugged him, but, oddly enough, still did not trust him: "I know that the field marshal did not do anything that he had to do. He avoided, as far as it was in his power, any action against the enemy. All his successes were forced by external force … But the Moscow nobility stands for him and wants him to lead the nation to the glorious end of this war … However, now I will not leave my army and I will not allow inconsistencies in the order of the field marshal, "Alexander said in a conversation with Wilson.
In general, there were a lot of grievances and misunderstandings with the awards.
"They give out many awards, but only a few are not given by chance," Lieutenant General NN Raevsky wrote to his wife.
"Intrigue is an abyss, some were given awards, but others were not kept," General A. Rimsky-Korsakov complained to the Minister of Internal Affairs.
"For one decent, five shoddy ones are produced, to which all witnesses", - Colonel S. N. Marin was indignant at the Life Guards.
This is not surprising. According to the classification of L. N. Gumilyov (proposed in the work "Ethnogenesis and the Biosphere of the Earth"), the Patriotic War of 1812 should be attributed to the most terrible and dangerous type of wars for the nation, in which the most active (passionate) part of the country's population dies, sacrificing itself in the name of saving the Motherland and the place of the fallen heroes, they inevitably engage in calculating and cynical egoists-subpassionaries (a typical example of a subpassionary personality is Boris Drubetskoy from L. Tolstoy's novel War and Peace).
Kutuzov did not want the continuation of the war in Europe. First, the field marshal quite rightly assumed that the destruction of Napoleon and his empire would be beneficial only to Great Britain, and not Russia, but England, would take advantage of the results of the victory over Napoleonic France: “I am not at all convinced whether the complete destruction of Napoleon and his army would be a great benefit for the Universe. His inheritance will not go to Russia or some other of the mainland powers, but to the power that already dominates the seas, and then its predominance will be unbearable, "Kutuzov told Wilson while still under Maloyaroslavets. Secondly, he understood that with the expulsion of the enemy from the territory of Russia, the people's war ended. The attitude to the trip abroad in Russian society was generally negative. It was loudly said in the Russian provinces that "Russia had already performed a miracle and that now that the Fatherland is saved, there is no need for it to make sacrifices for the good of Prussia and Austria, whose union is worse than outright enmity" (N. K. Schilder), and the Penza province even withdrew her militia. However, Alexander I had already imagined himself as a new Agamemnon, the leader and leader of the kings: "God sent me power and victory so that I could bring peace and tranquility to the universe," he absolutely seriously declared in 1813. And therefore, in the name of peace, the war was started again.
On December 24, 1812, the Russian army under the formal command of Kutuzov, but in the presence of Alexander I, who ordered everything, set out from Vilna. January 1, 1813Russian troops crossed the Neman, but that's a completely different story.