Napoleon's Invasion of Russia

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Napoleon's invasion of Russia, also known as the Second Polish War or, in Russia, as the Patriotic War of 1812, was a campaign undertaken by French Emperor Napoleon I (r. 1804-1814; 1815) and his 615,000-man Grande Armée against the Russian Empire. It was a catastrophic defeat for Napoleon and one of history's deadliest military operations, causing approximately 1,000,000 total deaths.

More about: Napoleon's Invasion of Russia


  • 7 Jul 1807
    Napoleon and Tsar Alexander I sign the Treaties of Tilsit, entering a Franco-Russian alliance.
  • 31 Dec 1810
    Tsar Alexander I pulls Russia out of the Continental System.
  • 24 Jun 1812
    Napoleon's massive Grande Armée crosses the Niemen River, beginning the Russian campaign.
  • 28 Jun 1812
    Napoleon captures Vilnius.
  • 16 Aug 1812 - 18 Aug 1812
    Napoleon fights Barclay de Tolly at the Battle of Smolensk; the French capture the city, but the Russians retreat, continuing their war of attrition.
  • 7 Sep 1812
    Napoleon's Grande Armée clashes with the Kutuzov's Russian army at the Battle of Borodino.
  • 14 Sep 1812 - 18 Oct 1812
    Napoleon briefly occupies Moscow, which is engulfed in flames. He orders a retreat after failing to secure peace.
  • 24 Oct 1812
    Napoleon wins the Battle of Maroyaroslavets but is forced to retreat along the devastated Smolensk route.
  • 9 Nov 1812
    Napoleon reaches Smolensk during his retreat from Moscow; his fighting strength has dwindled to 60,000.
  • 26 Nov 1812 - 29 Nov 1812
    The Grande Armée completes its dramatic crossing of the Berezina River, narrowly avoiding destruction.
  • 5 Dec 1812
    Napoleon heads to Paris, gives control of the Grande Armée to Joachim Murat; the disastrous Russian campaign is over.