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HISTORIC ARTICLE
HISTORIC ARTICLE

Jun 24, 1812 CE: Napoleon Invades Russia

Jun 24, 1812 CE: Napoleon Invades Russia

On June 24, 1812, the Grande Armée, led by French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte, crossed the Neman River, invading Russia from present-day Poland.

Grades

6 - 12

Subjects

Geography, Physical Geography, Social Studies, World History

On June 24, 1812, the Grande Armée, led by French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte, crossed the Neman River, invading Russia from present-day Poland. The result was a disaster for the French.

The Russian army refused to engage with Napoleon’s Grande Armée of more than 500,000 European troops. They simply retreated into the Russian interior. The Grande Armée did not have the supplies or the distribution networks required for such a long march. French strategists assumed the Grande Armée would be supplied by wagons, or would be able to gather supplies as they went. Russian roads, however, were in very poor condition, making it very difficult to transport supplies. The Grande Armée also failed to prepare for Russia’s harsh winter. Its troops were not dressed or trained for the kind of weather they faced.

The invasion lasted six months, and the Grande Armée lost more than 300,000 men. Russia lost more than 200,000. A single battle (the Battle of Borodino) resulted in more than 70,000 casualties in one day. The invasion of Russia effectively halted Napoleon’s march across Europe, and resulted in his first exile, to the Mediterranean island of Elba.

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Editor
National Geographic Society
Producer
Mary Crooks, National Geographic Society
other
Last Updated

May 20, 2022

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