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Napoleonic Era Discuss the many wars fought around the globe around the time of Napoleon. This forum is dedicated to the memory of Ben Weider.

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  #61  
Old 01 Dec 12, 06:56
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jsrgmeng View Post
If we divide the battle into two parts, I think it is reasonable to say that Chichagov lost one part, and Wittgenstein won another. (Although Wittgenstein surely did not work hard to help Chichagov)

Tactically, the French army lost 20000~25000 fighting troops (as Mikaberidze calculated, they lost as many as 1,600 officers) and more than 15000 stragglers in the battle of Berezina. The Russian Army lost definitely less than 20000, perhaps 10000 or so. (However, Kutuzov's claim of 4000 Russian casualties is an underestimate) From this point, the Russian Army won this battle.

Strategically, the French army crossed Berezina with more than 2,500 officers, and Alexander's St Petersburg Plan was not accomplished. Even Kutuzov was "very upset" according to Golitsyn when he heard this escape, in a private letter on 1 Dec, Kutuzov said 'I cannot say I am cheerful since not everything is going as well as I desire. Bonaparte is still alive'. From this point, the French army won their strategical victory.

Regards,
Robert
You can't divide the battle into two parts practically, as the fight against Tshitshagov was necessary to cross the river and the rear guard action against Wittgenstein kept the Russians from the bridge site. If one failed, the other was useless.

Sincerely,
M
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  #62  
Old 01 Dec 12, 06:59
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Quote:
Originally Posted by michaelozzie View Post
Good shooting by those voltigeurs then
It was such an amazing act of courage by Elbe and his men building those bridges
Another hero of the battle was Captain Brechtel, an artillery company commander who had a wooden leg. His gun company was emplaced, with others, to cover the bridge crossing site and was engaged in firing to the west bank of the river where Russian artillery was emplaced.

One Russian round took off his wooden leg, and while he held on to either a wheel or a vehicle, he continued to give his fire orders to his company, at the same time dispatching one of this gunners to fetch a spare leg from the battery wagon.

As Napoleon said, 'men of bronze.'

Sincerely,
M
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  #63  
Old 01 Dec 12, 08:20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Massena View Post
Eble and the pontonniers are the true heroes (using a very overdone word in modern parlance, but here it definitely is appropriate) of the crossing. Without them, the Grande Armee would have been trapped.

At Orsha Napoleon had ordered all excess baggage burned, and the army's pontoon train went up in the conflagration against Eble's protests. He did save, however, vehicles with coal, tools, etc., enough to construct bridges if necessary.

Napoleon counted too much on the Borisov bridge being intact and in French hands. The Russians took it and burned it.

Eble's pontonniers worked in freezing water up to their shoulders in shifts, and rested and attempted to dry out next to fires between shifts. Eble, who was over fifty, went into the water with every shift.

He was described by Bernadotte as 'a man out of Plutarch' and was both respected and revered by his men. He also was not adverse to knocking them sprawling if he was disobeyed. He was a skilled artilleryman, and not an engineer as described by too many careless authors.

The engineer and naval troops who worked with the pontonniers also deserve credit for the construction and maintenance of the bridges. They worked under Eble's orders.

Unfortunately for the army, Eble died of exhaustion after the retreat, as did Lariboissierre, the army's artillery commander. His son had been killed at Borodino.

Regarding the voltigeurs, the 'kleinen manner' were efficient. Nothing like companies of runts to pick fights with just about everybody.
Sincerely,
M
Its interesting he gets mentioned so much as an engineer when he was an artilleryman. I always found that confusing when reading accounts of the crossing. He must have had some education in engineering then to be able to oversee the construction of the bridges, particularly when they had such limited resources left to work with. Although that may also be testament to how well trainned the French artillerymen were in that time and why they remained so dominant in the field.
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  #64  
Old 01 Dec 12, 10:16
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Originally Posted by Massena View Post
Will do, Zouave, and sorry for the confusion to the topic.

Sincerely,
M
Thanks for your cooperation, Kevin. You are a gentleman and a scholar.
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  #65  
Old 01 Dec 12, 18:21
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You're very welcome, Zouave, and I am humbled by your gracious compliment.

Sincerely,
M
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  #66  
Old 01 Dec 12, 18:26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by michaelozzie View Post
Its interesting he gets mentioned so much as an engineer when he was an artilleryman. I always found that confusing when reading accounts of the crossing. He must have had some education in engineering then to be able to oversee the construction of the bridges, particularly when they had such limited resources left to work with. Although that may also be testament to how well trainned the French artillerymen were in that time and why they remained so dominant in the field.
Trestle bridges were a specialty of the engineers, but the pontonniers, as clearly shown at the Berezina, were more than capable of accomplishing their construction.

French artillerymen were trained in more than just artillery-their education in mathematics and siege warfare was also quite extensive-and they were expected to make bricks without straw. More of Eble's career is demonstrated in Pelet's memoir of Massena's campaigns in Portugal in 1810-1811. Eble was his chief of artillery, if I recall correctly. And I do believe that he was also a horse artilleryman, but I'd have to look those last two up to be sure.

You can also find his correspondence in GrandsArtilleurs by Girod de l'Ain. The correspondence of both Drouot and Senarmont are also contained in that excellent volume. Senarmont's also covers Friedland and his innovative artillery attack against the Russians.

Sincerely,
M
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  #67  
Old 09 Dec 12, 16:29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Massena View Post
Trestle bridges were a specialty of the engineers, but the pontonniers, as clearly shown at the Berezina, were more than capable of accomplishing their construction.

French artillerymen were trained in more than just artillery-their education in mathematics and siege warfare was also quite extensive-and they were expected to make bricks without straw. More of Eble's career is demonstrated in Pelet's memoir of Massena's campaigns in Portugal in 1810-1811. Eble was his chief of artillery, if I recall correctly. And I do believe that he was also a horse artilleryman, but I'd have to look those last two up to be sure.

You can also find his correspondence in GrandsArtilleurs by Girod de l'Ain. The correspondence of both Drouot and Senarmont are also contained in that excellent volume. Senarmont's also covers Friedland and his innovative artillery attack against the Russians.

Sincerely,
M
French mathematics was the best. The 3 L's: Laplace transforms, Legendre polynomials and Lagrange mechanical functions. Not to disrespect the 3 Fs of optics, Foucault, Fizeau and Fresnel. Yours truly had this pounded into him while at school. Their engineering was excellent.
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  #68  
Old 09 Dec 12, 17:28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Massena View Post
Trestle bridges were a specialty of the engineers, but the pontonniers, as clearly shown at the Berezina, were more than capable of accomplishing their construction.

French artillerymen were trained in more than just artillery-their education in mathematics and siege warfare was also quite extensive-and they were expected to make bricks without straw. More of Eble's career is demonstrated in Pelet's memoir of Massena's campaigns in Portugal in 1810-1811. Eble was his chief of artillery, if I recall correctly. And I do believe that he was also a horse artilleryman, but I'd have to look those last two up to be sure.

You can also find his correspondence in GrandsArtilleurs by Girod de l'Ain. The correspondence of both Drouot and Senarmont are also contained in that excellent volume. Senarmont's also covers Friedland and his innovative artillery attack against the Russians.

Sincerely,
M
According to page 63 of "Le General Eble (1758-1812)" by Girod de l'Ain, Eble was named as Commander in Chief of the Army of Portugal's artillery on 26 April 1810.

According to page 5, Eble was a Capitaine en Second on 18 May 1792 in the 7th Regiment; and on 10 July joined the newly created 9th company of horse artillery under Captain Baltus.
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  #69  
Old 19 Dec 12, 11:19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ulrih View Post
To honor this event there was small reconstruction in Borisov and also in this reconstruction participated two Belgians that repeat French army retreath path on foot.
I'm curoius. Who were these Belgians?




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Stratego
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Last edited by Stratego; 19 Dec 12 at 12:12..
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  #70  
Old 20 Dec 12, 14:11
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May I humbly add that many of the Pontoniers present at Berezina were Dutch?

And there were off course the 123e and 124e who fought there, among their multi-national comrades in arms



The 14e (Cuirassiers) is also said to have charged multiple times...which I find rather odd. Wouldn't (most of them) they have lost their horses by then? Fact is, that a Russian Dragoon regiment (is said to have) captured their eagle.
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Old 20 Dec 12, 18:02
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jsrgmeng View Post
Well, as Clausewitz said:
Buonaparte had here entirely saved his old honour and acquired new, but the result was still a stride towards the utter destruction of his army. We know how much of it reached Kovno, and that the Beresina contributed the last blow towards this result. Besides himself, his principal generals, and a couple of thousand officers, he brought away nothing of the whole army worth mentioning.

Berezina is probably not a Russian victory, however, the French "victory" is definitely Pyrrhic.

Regards
Robert
The French objective was to get across the river and continue their March

The Russian objective was to stop them

Definitely a French Victory - a Battle they had to win
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Old 21 Dec 12, 10:37
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or preserving his men & horses

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ulrih View Post
Massena I know that you`re bonapartist but to write that Russians lost at Berezina it`s nonsence. They maybe didn`t achieve what they wanted but didn`t lose the battle. Anyway French lost more - soldiers, artillery, equipment and etc.
And speaking about Kutuzov - you will never know if he was afraid or simple didn`t make on time. Or even more - he didn`t want to capture Napoleon as all benefits from this would go to England and Austria.
Remember that Kutuzove had to advance , by horse & mulecart, over devastated ground.

And he was winning the battle of attrition. Seems like a smart general for his time, rather than a 19 century risk taker.
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Old 21 Dec 12, 20:51
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The Russian Strategy is 'underestimated'

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wolfe Tone View Post
The French objective was to get across the river and continue their March

The Russian objective was to stop them

Definitely a French Victory - a Battle they had to win
Kutuzov's worst outcome would ahve been a successfull French stand at the Berezina, weakenign the Russian army, and allowing Vilnius to be re- enforced for a siege.

I had forgotten about this battle before re- reading Hexter & Pipes europe since 1500, who considered it a Strategic Russian victory.

Another (Belgian) officer, Francois Dumonceau, had to lead his horse over:

'a veritable moving mountain, more than 2 metres deep, of dead and dying, pushing, shoving, hemmed in on all sides, at each step risking being thrown down by the convulsive spasms of those we were trampling underfoot.'


Vilnius became a charnel house rather than a fortress, - discipline vanished, & the city fell to the Russinas- after the French high command deserted it..
http://mcbrolloks.wordpress.com/2012...-the-russians/
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Old 22 Dec 12, 05:11
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are you sure of this?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Massena View Post
Yes, the Russians were whipped into the ground on both sides of the river and had been totally fooled where the actual bridging site was going to be.

One French grenadier remarked that had the shoe been on the other foot, not one Russian would have escaped.

And the Russians did lose the battle and failed to stop the French...

Sincerely,
M
The French were reduced to tatters & left 15,000 plus of their citizens / stragglers onthe far side of the burnt bridges. From Berezina to Vilnius they are increasingly hunted by Cossack irregulars. Vilnius can't be defended .

If that is victory I hate to see what a French defeat looks like...
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  #75  
Old 22 Dec 12, 05:27
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A defeat would be not getting across the river and losing to the two Russian armies that they whipped into the ground.

The stragglers were not effective troops and there were many civilians in the mix that would not move across the bridges and had to be abandoned. Eble delayed destroying the bridges to urge them across. They didn't listen to him.

Again, if the Russians had won the action, the French would not have gotten across the river and would have been taken or destroyed. The Russians failed.

Sincerely,
M
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