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Thread: Was it possible for Napoleon to conquer Moscow and still win the war?

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    Regular Member bertrand's Avatar
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    Was it possible for Napoleon to conquer Moscow and still win the war?

    I wrote a book not long ago (in French) in which I studied in great details the campaign of 1812 in Russia with the advance to Moscow and the long painful retreat back to France. By the time the Grande Armee recrossed the border of Russia in jan 1813, there was less than 5% of the men still alive and those were more ghosts than men.
    So, in essence, Napoleon lost everything there, his horses, his army, his invincibility and finally his throne.

    Yet, it is interesting to notice that unlike the Germans in 1941-45, Napoleon did not lose a single battle against the Russians. In fact he won them all, even at the end when all his men were in rags. The winter of course and the lack of supplies slowly got the better of his forces.

    So my question is this. Was it possible for him to conquer Moscow and get the huge propaganda benefit from this and at the same time save his army and win the war?
    The Germans failed but the mongols in the 13th century and the Polish in the 17th century faired better... What do you think?



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    By my oppinion , in that time nobody could conquer Russia , if he is comming from Europe and has slow army . Even Scythians used same tactic against Darius , they retreated across wast aerias of steppes burning every food suply , covering every spring and whell .They hasnt had need to win battle , because hunger was already wining the war for them . They actualy evade battles , whaiting for enemy to understand he would never find them , and start to retreat , and when he do, they starting they guerilla ( small cavalry units) attacks- that ultimately leed to total destruction of enemy , Darius was saved by Ionian Greeks , but nobody was there to save Napoleon army. And ofcourse when you coming from Europe with slow army , you would get caught by winter , and that is certain dead . Mongols were diferent - all of them was light cavalry units , mainly archers , that could fastly move over long distances , hiting every important stronghold in very short period , and by that destroying Russian defences . Also they killed a lot of population deliberetly to make peasants fier of them , and run away leaving they lands empty and caussing crowding in unattacked aeria , that leads to hunger and spreading of various deseases.
    Hitler tried same thing , but Mongolian horses used only grass - and steppes are full of it , but Hitler tanks used fuell , and Russians burned oil platforms on Caucasus - so most of tanks fail out of ranks , and war was already lost .
    So I do not believe even if Russians havent burned Moscow , and let Napoleon take it , that Napoleon could win , winter was just starting , and Russians had whole of Siberia to retreat

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    Regular Member bertrand's Avatar
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    I tend to agree, but then how did the Pole do it?
    I understand they held the Kremlin for two years (1610-12) while Napoleon was forced out after only one month. This is what I found on internet about the Polish intervention:

    "In 1609 [after a period of civil war in Russia] Sigismund III made the war official, claiming the Russian throne himself. His main effort was directed against Smolensk, which was besieged from 1609-1611. The city was defended by Michael Borisovich Shein, who would later attempt to capture the city (siege of Smolensk, 1632-34).
    The Polish intervention in Russia triggered an alliance between Sweden and Moscow. A combined army, under the Tsar’s brother Dmitrii Shuiskii, was sent to relief the siege of Smolensk, but it was heavily defeated at the battle of Klushino (4 jul 1610). Three months later, on 8 October 1610 a Polish army occupied Moscow. Tsar Vasilii was deposed, and dragged to Warsaw. Sigismund’s son Wladyslaw was actually offered the Russian throne, but he was unable to take advantage of his chance. The war in Russia was unpopular in Poland, and Sigismund was more interesting in the capture of Smolensk and associated borderlands. Despite this, a Polish garrison occupied the Kremlin from 1610 until 1612. Smolensk finally fell in the summer of 1611.
    The same year saw the beginning of an anti-Polish uprising in Russia. The Poles were forced to withdraw from most of Russia in 1612, while the garrison in the Kremlin was forced to surrender and then massacred."

    Nevertheless Poland held Moscow for two years; it is interesting to notice that in Napoleon's army it is the Poles that fared the best, with little losses until the very end.
    Dutch were also very good. The Germans on the other hand, disbanded quickly at the first strife, whatever the state they came from. They had little appetite for risking their lives for the French.

    Those who believe that Napoleon had chance to enter Moscow and win the war believe that either he should have stayed inside Moscow during the winter (but then he exposed himself to being surrounded) or he should have conquered Russia in a longer period (2 to 3 years; that's what Hitler tried but he failed.

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    Regular Member Bodin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bertrand View Post
    I tend to agree, but then how did the Pole do it?
    I understand they held the Kremlin for two years (1610-12) while Napoleon was forced out after only one month. This is what I found on internet about the Polish intervention:

    "In 1609 [after a period of civil war in Russia] Sigismund III made the war official, claiming the Russian throne himself. His main effort was directed against Smolensk, which was besieged from 1609-1611. The city was defended by Michael Borisovich Shein, who would later attempt to capture the city (siege of Smolensk, 1632-34).
    The Polish intervention in Russia triggered an alliance between Sweden and Moscow. A combined army, under the Tsar’s brother Dmitrii Shuiskii, was sent to relief the siege of Smolensk, but it was heavily defeated at the battle of Klushino (4 jul 1610). Three months later, on 8 October 1610 a Polish army occupied Moscow. Tsar Vasilii was deposed, and dragged to Warsaw. Sigismund’s son Wladyslaw was actually offered the Russian throne, but he was unable to take advantage of his chance. The war in Russia was unpopular in Poland, and Sigismund was more interesting in the capture of Smolensk and associated borderlands. Despite this, a Polish garrison occupied the Kremlin from 1610 until 1612. Smolensk finally fell in the summer of 1611.
    The same year saw the beginning of an anti-Polish uprising in Russia. The Poles were forced to withdraw from most of Russia in 1612, while the garrison in the Kremlin was forced to surrender and then massacred."

    Nevertheless Poland held Moscow for two years; it is interesting to notice that in Napoleon's army it is the Poles that fared the best, with little losses until the very end.
    Dutch were also very good. The Germans on the other hand, disbanded quickly at the first strife, whatever the state they came from. They had little appetite for risking their lives for the French.

    Those who believe that Napoleon had chance to enter Moscow and win the war believe that either he should have stayed inside Moscow during the winter (but then he exposed himself to being surrounded) or he should have conquered Russia in a longer period (2 to 3 years; that's what Hitler tried but he failed.
    I dont believe Napoleon could stay in Moscow over winter - city was burned by Russians during they retreat , Napoleon was above average inteligent , and one of best generals ever , only way to defeat him was to put him in egzitless situation.
    Whell Poles did take Russia , but only hold it like two years - it is realy important moment of taking Moscow in 1610 - it was after Great Russian famine , when 1/3 of Russian population died
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russian...1%E2%80%931603
    It was also Time of Troubles ( Smutnoe vremya) - in 1598 died last tzar from Ryurik dinasty , and only in 1613 was established new dinasty of Romanov - this was time of constant social uprising and pesant revolutions , there was also lot of usurpers of tron and impostors and constant fight for crown .
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Time_of_Troubles
    Also it was not only Poland but Lithuania to and they hold also Latvia ,Moldavia, parts of Slovakia, Belarus and most of Ukraine , they had best form of goverment by my oppinion - parlament monarhy controled by nobility ( szlahta )
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polish_..._and_Sarmatism
    Reason why Poles fight better than Germans in Napoleon army was Polish hate toward Russians - they fight a lot with eachother , Russians destroyed they state ,... Germans has not had many reasons to die in Russia

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