1812, Part 14

On October 25, 1812, in the village of Gorodnya, north of Maloyaroslavets, Napoleon sat thinking in a humble cottage. Should he continue as planned earlier to Kaluga, or should he retreat?

Council of War at Gorodnya, by Alexander Averyanov.

Napoleon sat half the night listening to reports. The Russians were spoiling for a fight the next day, while the French wanted to avoid it. The French generals were in no mind to go to Kaluga either.

Napoleon at Gorodnya, by Alexander Averyanov.

At dawn, Napoleon set out on a reconnaissance mission with some of his generals, accompanied by a small force of cavalry. Unexpectedly, they were fallen upon by a brace of Cossacks, who quickly surrounded the Emperor and his generals. The French were saved by the mist. Napoleon didn’t lose his cool and was able to fight off the Russians, and proceed with his reconnaissance.

At Gorodnya, by Alexander Averyanov.

Cossack action at Gorodnya, by A. Safonov.

Kutuzov was a worried man. Why weren’t the French attacking? Perhaps they were sneaking off to Kaluga? He ordered his irregular cavalry to head off a possible French venture to Kaluga on the Medyn road.

A skirmish between the irregular Russian cavalry and a small detachment of French ensued. Later that evening, Napoleon ordered his Grand Army to retreat via Borovsk, Verey, Mozhaisk, and onwards on the Smolensk road.

[Translated excerpts from КНИЖКА С КАРТИНКАМИ.]

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