According to Peterson (1995), the Russian invasion by Napoleon represents one of the military campaigns that are extensively studied. The invasion history had been studied by many scholars in the past one hundred and eighty years. In the view of many scholars, when Napoleon was entering Russia, his army was intact and he triumphantly marched towards Moscow in the early 1800. However, circumstances forced him to retreat during the 1812 winter season, first because of the fire which destroyed the bigger part of Moscow and the harsh winter conditions which seriously affected his army.
THE REASONS WHY GRAND ARMEE FELL
Typhus disease broke in the army which affected the Grande armee in many ways. According to Peterson (2005), the disease caused scourge which made the napoleon army not to see Moscow. The disease was commonly associated with war to the extent that it was almost inevitable and always expected in revolutions and in wars. The disease was so severe that no encampment, besieged city or campaigning army managed to escape the disease. The deadly disease which is associated with lice and human being caused high fever that lasted for about two weeks thus affecting the health of the fighting soldiers. War conditions usually facilitate the spread of the disease due to mass migration, malnutrition, poverty, inadequate housing and other similar conditions. By the end of first month after the deadly disease broke, about 80,000 soldiers in the grand armee had been lost due to the disease infections. By August the same year, the disease had reduced the Napoleon army to about 130,000 soldiers. The disease continued to weaken the army as more and more soldiers became victims of the disease.
Another cause that led to the fall of Grade armee is many military confrontations with Russian army which affected military strength of the Napoleon army. For instance, the Valutino battle which took place on august 17 which killed about 6,000 French soldiers and the Borodino confrontation which took place on September 7 the same year killing about 30,000 French soldiers. The soldiers also lacked their basic needs for survival such as shelter and food after the Russian army destroyed Moscow by fire in the month of October. This exposed the French soldiers to the cold winter conditions which made them to return to Smolensk on October 19. Soldiers were also constantly harassed by the peasants and the Cossacks. The situation worsened on November 3 when snow started to fall freezing many soldiers to death. The winter conditions affected the soldiers and the horses as well as affecting the supply of basic needs to the army.
The cold weather, hunger and typhus disease continued to take lives of the soldiers as the war continued. The situation worsened when many people including soldiers were drowned or crushed as they attempted to cross Beresina River in the month of November. This continued to minimize the number of soldiers who could continue fighting in the war. The falling snow also affected the transport and the army could not receive any help from the outside. This meant that there was no help to the ailing soldiers as well as food to feed the fighting soldiers.
Though Napoleon conquered many territories due to his military strength, he finally fell after fighting many battles. Several factors weakened his military strength which led to his down fall. These factors include attack by deadly typhus disease, harsh winter conditions, military confrontations and lack of food supply among other factors.
Peterson, R.K. (1995), Insects, Disease, and Military History: The Napoleonic Campaigns and Historical Perception. American Entomologist. 41:147-160. Accessed on February 19, 2011