1812, Part 8

By the evening of September 15, 1812, there were fires beginning sporadically in various parts of Moscow. But the morning of the next day revealed a truly frightening sight. In the direction of the Red Square, rows and rows of shopping arcades were ablaze.

The Fire of Moscow, by Olga Lapina (13 year old participant in the 7th Festival of Children’s Arts ‘Golden Cockerel’)

The Great Fire of Moscow, 1812, by Ivan Aivazovsky.

The Great Fire of Moscow in 1812, by Johann Olendorf.

Blaze, Zamoskvorechye, by V. Vereshchagin.

The Fire of Moscow, by Jean-Charles Langlois.

Napoleon rushed to the windows and, across the Moskva River, saw the flaming Zamoskvorechye. He realized that the fire had spread to all the surrounding streets. The Kremlin was in a ring of fire. Above the burning city raged a firestorm, and strong winds carried the embers. Like flying torches, they fell on the roofs of houses all over Moscow and the Kremlin.

Seeing the conflagration, Napoleon shouted, ‘What barbarians! What a people!’ Everything was ablaze by now. The Kremlin, where the Russian and French gunpowder and armoury was stowed, could any moment take off into the air. All it needed was a spark.

Through the fire, by V. Vereshchagin.

Napoleon didn’t move from his place for a long time. His generals, Murat among them, begged him on bended knee to abandon the burning town. He relented only in the evening, and ordered that he be escorted to the Imperial Petrovsk palace. There was fire everywhere. Philippe Paul, Comte de Ségur recalled, ‘We walked on the burning ground, under a burning sky, between burning walls.’

The French in Moscow, by an unknown German artist

[Translated excerpts from КНИЖКА С КАРТИНКАМИ.]

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