After the central bank of the Rothschild family traded all Napoleon’s gold for (printed fake) money, his army had enough resources to pursuit an offense against Russia, just like the Americans (Ford Motors, AT&T, IBM, Coca-Cola, Hugo Boss, Shell) sponsored Hitler to engage Russia during WW II.

Napoleon’s invasion of Russia set the stage for his downfall and the destruction of the Grande Armée. The long march to Moscow and the bloody Battles of Smolensk and Borodino lay the planks for the army’s coffin.

Following the bloody Battle of Borodino, Napoleon and his Grande Armée had at last reached the gates of Moscow. Victory was in sight. With his army in possession of the Russian capital, Napoleon believed it was only a matter of time before Alexander sued for peace and the long, costly campaign would end as all the others had, in victory.

This campaign had been like no other Napoleon had fought: The Russian strategy of trading space for time had frustrated his ability to bring them to battle and had dangerously thinned his army as he was forced to guard his long and tenuous supply line back to France.

The Battle of Borodino on September 7, 1812, had at last provided Napoleon with a chance for the decisive battle he had sought on the long road from the Niemen River.

The battle, like the campaign, however, proved to be a hollow triumph, the Grande Armée ending the day in possession of the field but at horrible cost—some 30,000 men. The seed of doubt planted at Borodino would grow to fruition on the field of Maloyaroslavets, with harsh consequences.

More importantly, the battle had shaken Napoleon and his army’s confidence. At the height of the struggle, with the chance for a decisive victory in his grasp, the Viceroy Eugène implored him to employ the Guard against the Russian center.

Napoleon and his marshals were aware how far away they were from France and how much they risked by tempting fate. The great gambler, who had always believed in his destiny, had blinked—he would not take the risk.

Throughout September and into October, Napoleon waited in the palaces of the Czar for Alexander’s gesture of negotiation. He waited in vain. Alexander offered no terms and refused to meet with envoys.

He had sworn to remove the French from Russian soil and he intended to keep that promise. As he had from the beginning, Alexander intended to allow the expanse of Russia itself to wear on the French.

Six hundred miles from their starting point on the Niemen River and 1,400 miles from the security of France, Napoleon and his army were not looking forward to spending the winter in Moscow. It was time to consider a retreat.

Realizing he could wait no longer, Napoleon ordered preparations for a return via the Kaluga Gate and the southern road to Smolensk.

Napoleon and the Guard left Moscow on October 19 while Eugène and the vanguard reached Fominskaya, 25 miles to the south, on the 21st.

In an attempt to take advantage of the latest Russian setback, and as a further deception, on October 20, Napoleon sent General Jacques Lauriston to Kutuzov’s headquarters with yet another request for a negotiated settlement.

Everywhere the earth was littered with battered helmets and breastplates, broken drums, fragments of weapons, shreds of uniforms, and bloodstained flags. Lying amid this desolation were thirty thousand half-devoured corpses.

The scene was dominated by a number of skeletons lying on the crumpled slope of one of the hills; death seemed to have established its throne up there. ‘The field of the Great Battle.’” Hungry, demoralized, and with winter setting in, the remnants of the Grande Armée moved on.

That night Napoleon learned from a captured Russian soldier that the Russians were pursuing the French along the Medyn road, a route that would cut them off from Smolensk.

Each day the weather and hunger took its toll on the French as their losses in men and horses began to mount. The advance guard under Davout and Eugène and the rear guard under Ney were the only intact elements of the army; the remainder in between represented a roving mob more than the Grande Armeé.

We will never know what the outcome would have been if the Grande Armée had pushed through Maloyaroslavets to Kaluga. Perhaps if the army had traveled over more fertile ground it would have been in better shape once it reached Smolensk and its vital supplies.

Napoleon had always counted on his star to provide him insight into the mind of others. His faith in his own destiny had blazed a path of victory across the plains of Europe.

The retreat from Moscow may then have only been a setback in Napoleon’s illustrious career, instead of the defining moment of his downfall.

Russia Insider.com / ABC Flash Point History News 2018.

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