Talk:Battle of Borodino

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GA review aftermath[edit]

Congratulations everyone. It seems I was a little late for the party.

Two points:

  • I suggest a sentence somewhere in the invasion section or before that mentions that only about half the French army was French.
  • I in the "Aftermath and legacy" sections change "23,000 men crossed the Russian border alive" to a range unless that is a widely agreed figure and footnote the sentence.

-- PBS (talk) 00:21, 7 March 2011 (UTC)

I would like to comment on the "Result" section of the infobox. In my opinion, it is somewhat illogical. It states that the result was "French victory", however, it specifies that it was a French strategic loss. I do not see much logic in that, because the strategic loss implies that the victory was only tactical. Therefore, in my opinion it would be correct to write "tactical victory", or "indecisive victory", especially because many sources describe the result as "almost a draw". In addition, the claim that the battle was a French strategic loss is also hardly correct. Many sources note that the battle hadn't changed the strategic situation: the parties essentially returned to the status quo: both armies have been preserved and it has been demonstrated that neither party could destroy each other in a pitched battle. Therefore, I think that "French tactical victory. Withdrawal of Russian Army" would be more adequate.--Paul Siebert (talk) 02:57, 7 March 2011 (UTC)
Paul, I don't want to deal with info boxes anymore, even I get to the point where I don't care, there is a lot of work to be done, so help me do it instead of this stupid waste of my time please. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that a PhD doesn't have time to do more that endlessly write about info boxes in anything Russian. Can't you contribute in a meaningful way for once? Honestly? I asked before and you talked about how you were oh so busy, but you had time to write pages about a info box, really? Here is what I really and truly get upset about, this is what I started with [[1]], do you want to know why something as historically important as this battle looked this bad? Because a pair of users were arguing over the info box. No one was willing to contribute because of the non stop arguments over the info box. I and other users have worked pretty damn hard to get this article somewhere, help us, help me, a non Russian, bring this article to be the best. No it isn't a pretty battle, no it doesn't really show anyone in their best light (except Barclay, he really did shine a bit) and yes its ugly in some ways, but you know its a very human story. The Russian Army did all that a human could ask for and so much more, and it is here in this article. There is real bravery, heroic action, on both sides, help me bring that out, don't trivialize a battle to make it politically correct in your view. This article is much more than that, if you do truly care about things Russian, then help me make it the best, don't waste more of my time on a info box I am begging you. I've changed it to tactical french victory and I never want to hear another fucking word about it as long as I live.Tirronan (talk) 11:47, 7 March 2011 (UTC)
I do not understand that your reaction. Yes, you asked me to contribute, I checked the sources available for me and I found that I had not much to add to what you have already done. (Let me also point out that upon reading I had to partially reconsider my views on this battle.). I plan to look for other books, I have some concrete ideas, however, since the article is in a good shape even without my humble 2 cents I see no need to do that right now. Remember, WP has no deadline. However, the infobox looked illogical, and, taking into account that many readers start reading with an infoboxe and frequently limit themselves with an infobox and a lede, these two parts need more attention than other parts of the article. I personally couldn't understand why did you spend so much time and efforts to improve the article and missed quite illogical "French victory - French strategic loss" in the infobox: how a "victory" can cause "strategic loss"? Victory that causes strategic loss is a Pyrrhic victory, however, you disagree with such a characteristic of the Battle of Borodino (and I have to concede that most sources do not characterise it as Pyrrhic). In addition, I wouldn't say that the sources agree with that Rhenin's conclusion: for instance, Chandler characterise the battle as "barren". Therefore, it would be correct to write that the battle's result was a Napoleon's tactical victory, and to specify that it lead to a withdrawal of the Russian army.
In connection to that, I do not understand why do you accuse me in attempts to glorify Russians: I cannot say that replacement of "French victory" with "Tactical French victory" and simultaneous removal of "French strategic loss" glorifies Russians in greater extent than the previous version did.
I fixed the obvious technical mistake you made (you removed France from the belligerent list, I believe by accident). I also restored "Russian withdrawal", because it is an important outcome of the battle. I decided not to add the reference, because this statement is too obvious to be challenged, and, therefore, doesn't need a reference per policy. In addition, to many references in an infobox and a lede is not a good style.
Cheers, --Paul Siebert (talk) 16:02, 7 March 2011 (UTC)

I'm going to take a moment an apologize for my outburst, it is just that I have worked very hard to bring this article up from a start class to a GA level and I consider it much more than an info box. That however does not excuse my outburst it was unprofessional. Part of what had me upset was what I perceive as trivializing a hard won victory. Regardless of what "side" you like, it was an impressive demonstration of arms to take a fortified position by main force, and that is no mean feat. Secondly, slapping tactical on the second largest battle of the Napoleonic age seems like an insult to both sides of the battle. Thirdly, strategic Russian withdraw is nothing but a fancy wording for a Russian retreat. They didn't leave the battlefield because they thought that in the long term it would be better, thought it was, but they did not have a choice, the Russian army was a wreck, saying anything else is a lie to the public. Forcing me to change the outcome box by endless blogging has really gotten me rather upset, you see I don't care who won or lost, I'm sorry I just don't. I do care passionately about relaying the truth, regardless of how ugly. The problem about Borodino is one that I have not found an answer to, how do we capture the fact that this was a battle that has two separate outcomes, that the French won is final, they won and won by a substantial margin, however it was a victory in a campaign where the farther that the French forces got the worse it became. The reason Pyrrhic doesn't work for me is in one three day period the French lost 33,000 troops to logistics, 150,000 by the battle, mostly not a shot was fired in anger. To make matters worse, every single loss to the French was made up in less than a week and Russian losses in a month. There is historian support for Pyrrhic, it but it is in the minority. Regardless by how much the French won by, it was meaningless, every single week imposed more losses on the French thanks to Russian operations against the Smolensk road supply trains. Had there been no battle neither I, nor any historian I have every read, thinks anything would have changed. So as I see it the real argument is how do we capture meaningless victory? I am asking everyone to be a bit creative and lets us get out of the box and to a meaningful way to capture what we have so far failed to do.Tirronan (talk) 19:41, 10 March 2011 (UTC)

Something like meaningless victory vs. meaningful withdrawal sounds good ;)
Seriously, I think it is not that much important how we call it: Pyrrhic, tactical or non-decisive French victory vs strategic Russian victory, strategic Russian withdrawal etc. That was an unusual battle, like the entire campaign was, and that should be reflected in the infobox. No matter how it is worded, but there should be a paradox. This is important to indicate, so that readers see it and try to find an answer to this paradox in the article. The true explanation of the battle and its consequences needs much detail, which the infobox can't provide anyway, it seems. GreyHood Talk 01:59, 11 March 2011 (UTC)

Battle result[edit]

I have changed the result summary in "Tactical stalemate, French strategic victory" (and backed it up with a peer-reviewed source). I hope this didn't offend anyone who worked hard on this article, so I'll informally summarize my reasons for doing so: in military terminology "tactical" does not refer to the importance of the operations, but the level. Tactics are about the movement of troops on the battlefield while strategics handle the movements of troop concentrations in the theatre of war. The strategic aim of the French army at that point was to reach Moscow with the army, while the Russian strategic aim was to hold back the French. Since the Russian army as a whole retreated and the French army could advance. This constitutes a strategical victory for the French, even if it weakened their army beyond recovery. Tactically, on the other hand, both maintained the same positions and suffered comparable losses. This can not constitute a tactical victory for either side, since the balance in troops and positions on the battlefield (i.e. not the movement of the armies afterwards) remained unchanged when combat ceased. [this all as a small explanation for the need to change it, see the cited references for the reasons] --Tervan (talk) 08:43, 19 September 2012 (UTC)

the result has been the subject of weeks of debate last year. A consensus - IMHO, a flawed one - had been reached. Although I agree with you when you say that it was a French strategic victory, I've had to revert while the community discusses.--Alexandru Demian (talk) 09:09, 23 September 2012 (UTC)
Okay, I understand. The talk paga was a bit chaotic and hard to keep track of before. However, Wikipedia does require third-party sources, so if the current consensus can not be supported with decent references, I see no reason to keep it. These two peer-reviewed works by a well-known historian and a USMC Lt.-Gen. both clearly label the outcome as a tactical stalemate (and go in a lenghty discussion about the strategic implications): [1][2] If the current "outcome" is to be kept, it needs citations. --Tervan (talk) 09:01, 24 September 2012 (UTC)
"Strategic victory" means that the battle brought some long-term advantage for Napoleon. Can you provide any source that explain what these advantages were? AFAIK, French strategic situation hadn't improved (at best) as a result of the Battle of Borodino, so it is senseless to speak about any strategic victory.--Paul Siebert (talk) 14:46, 24 September 2012 (UTC)
The article you cited does not have any sources for this very ambiguous definition of "strategic victory", in military terminology it is plain wrong.[3] One needs to bear in mind that this term can both be used for 1) the outcome of a specific campaign/war 2) the impact of a specific battle on the strategic plan. Since we're discussing the outcome of a battle, we have to use the second definition. A modern term for this would be "operational" (and "operational victory"), but as explained by Lt.-Gen. Schmidle in my first source above, this term is not applicable to Napoleon since he was both political and military head. Even Beskrovny and Tarle, who support the claim of a Russian strategic victory, do so not based on its difference on the outcome of the war, but based on the claim that it allowed Kutuzov to "seize the initiative". (while at it, I don't use those two as sources to justify a "Russian strategical victory" based on [4])
At this point in the war, all sources seem to agree that the strategic plan of Napoleon was directed to capturing Moscow, while Kutuzov's plan was to block the French army's movement to Moscow. In this respect, after the Battle of Borodino, Kutuzov retreated (failing his strategic aim to block Napoleon's road) and the French reached Moscow (which was their strategic aim).[5]
Conclusion: in modern military terminology, this would be classified as an "operational French victory". However, in the early 19th century and especially in Napoleon's case, there was no distinction between the strategic and operational level. The strategic level though, encompasses both the immediate strategic aims (the "means") and the winning of the war (the "goal"). While this battle may have prevented Napoleon from winning the war, he did accomplish his immediate strategic aims. I have provided citations supporting my opinion, but have yet to see any sources for the current listed "battle result". --Tervan (talk) 11:51, 25 September 2012 (UTC)
Interesting. However, taking into account that some authors, including Alexander Mikaberidze, characterise the outcome as Napoleon's Pyrrhic victory, I am wondering how "strategic" victory can be simultaneously a "Pyrrhic" one?--Paul Siebert (talk) 15:27, 25 September 2012 (UTC)
It's not really unique. Operation Mars is another prime example of how a victory can successfully reach its strategic goals but still be bad for the outcome of the war. We have to keep in mind that we have 20/20 hindsight, but the commanders during the war set the strategic aims according to what they thought would lead to victory. Another example is the Invasion of Crete, which fulfilled a strategic need (control of the island for added control of the Mediterranean) but in effect caused damage to the war itself. --Tervan (talk) 22:42, 27 September 2012 (UTC)

Do you really have no own sources? Regarding losses the infobox is only a copy of the russian Wikipedia. They Russians have lost only 211 officers? Who will think that this is true?--Caedmon12 (talk) 14:41, 25 September 2012 (UTC)

An unqualified description of the result as a "French victory" CANNOT stand in the infobox. This creates a contradiction between the infobox and the text of the article itself. The article clearly reads that the battle was NOT an unqualified French victory. The article also mentions scholarly interpretations of the battle as a Pyrrhic French victory. "Inconclusive," or "French Pyrrhic victory," is indeed what the logic of the article suggests. If, on the other hand, Mr. Demian wants to claim that Borodino was a conclusive French victory, he will have to rewrite the article itself, not only stand his vigil guarding the infobox.

Thus, if the community of authors does not wish to undermine the quality of this article and endanger its 'good article' status, the current infobox will have to be changed. Despite the earlier discussion here about the insignificance of infoboxes, clearly an infobox is important. This is what the reader's eye first encounters. Please keep up the quality of the article and oppose childish attempts to glorify one or the other side -- French, in this case.Brildanz1 (talk) 16:19, 30 June 2013 (UTC)

Russian name: "Бородинская битва" or "Бородинское сражение"?[edit]

The Russian GA version of this article is called Бородинское сражение, the commemorative coins called it Бородинское сражение, and "Бородинское сражение" gets almost three times more google hits than "Бородинская битва" in a general search, with about 30% more hits in scholar and book searches. Is it OK to change the Russian as stated here? VsevolodKrolikov (talk) 14:48, 28 August 2011 (UTC)

Excellent! This section of history isn't all that popular in English so I have been a bit alone in working on it. Since I don't speak a word of Russian that hasn't been easy. Please do change it.Tirronan (talk) 17:17, 28 August 2011 (UTC)
Done. I'm not a historian at all; I just chanced across the page and saw the picture of the coin with different words to the Russian. It's depressing if it's true that this kind of event isn't popular in English.VsevolodKrolikov (talk) 17:30, 28 August 2011 (UTC)

Vietnamese source[edit]

Why is there a Vietnamese-language source supporting 13 separate statements in the article? It's not in the list of references and I can't find any discussion about it. Is it really an appropriate source in an English-language article about European history?

Peter Isotalo 19:39, 14 April 2013 (UTC)


Bagration wasn't killed in action. He got wounded and died by his wounds later in Moscow. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 2003:70:8E82:E201:508C:6E04:8BCF:4209 (talk) 11:13, 27 August 2013 (UTC)


Who decided that this battle had no outcome? Hóseás (talk) 17:53, 15 February 2014 (UTC)

It's a ridiculous measure unique to the English version Wikipedia. The Russian version (which has Good Article status) refers to the battle as a "tactical French victory", while the French, German, and Spanish versions all call it a "French Pyrrhic victory". As does every history book you're ever likely to read. Just type "pyrrhic victory borodino" into Google and Google Books, and see for yourself. (talk) 13:00, 19 April 2014 (UTC)
For what it is worth I probably wrote 70% of the article. People arguing over the result box is both a waste of effort and a reason I took a wiki break for years. The single most appropriate phrase I can come up with is meaningless victory. There are battles and entire wars that simply do not fit into one line boxes. See the War of 1812 for an example. Here the problem is that the French lose 35,000 over the two day course of the battle. The French were in possession of the battlefield at the end of the day. The Russian army left the field because it was a wreck. Had the Russian army been in better shape it would have remained and fought. All these facts are pretty indisputable. Here is where it gets tricky. Exactly how much did the battle effect the rest of the war? Everything the French lost in the course of the battle was compensated by the addition of another corps. Alright how did it effect the Russian side of the war? Well not much actually the Russian army was back to full strength within 90 days. The net result of this battle, horrific as it was, was nothing. For all intents and purposes all the losses were quickly replaced. As long as the French remained deep within Russia and the Russian army existed to harass the French supply line, French losses continued unabated. More French troops only resulted in less supplies and increased losses. Where is the result MEANINGLESS VICTORY? I dearly wish that the line was French Tactical Victory/Strategically meaningless. For the French side it was just one more source of losses when in the overall view they were on the wrong side of a logistics battle they were losing at more than a two to one ratio. But that really doesn't go in a results box either. Save your time and breath on results boxes and read the article it is right and the result box is wrong.Tirronan (talk) 07:58, 21 April 2014 (UTC)
Your opinion is irrelevant - it's the opinion of the authorities on the matter, which count. They all call it a Pyrrhic victory and/or a tactical victory. Indeed, it's often give as the example, par excellence, of a Pyrrhic victory. And "for what it's worth", I grew up and am sitting right now, about 2km from the site of the battle. We are all taught in school about this battle, as it is one of the most famous in Russian history. You can look it up in any number of history books online, in any language. You don't get to change history yourself. (talk) 17:04, 21 April 2014 (UTC)
It is usual to gain talkpage consensus for a contested change before making the changes instead of continuing to edit war. It cannot be a pyrrhic victory unless there is a large difference in casualties in the battle. The estimates given here overlap. Winning a battle only to lose the campaign does not make it a pyrrhic victory either. Apart from this it is wikiproject policy to leave the line blank where the outcome is in dispute.--Charles (talk) 13:03, 21 April 2014 (UTC)
Read above. Your opinion is irrelevant. Sources are what counts. (talk) 17:04, 21 April 2014 (UTC)

So if no one can present sources saying it was NOT a Pyrrhic victory and/or tactical victory, why are random wikipedia users (Charles and Alex) deleting the sourced, historical, factual, and common sense information? (talk) 15:15, 27 April 2014 (UTC)

I agree with the Russian IP and the Hungarian. This battle was a classic case of a pyrrihic victory. An "example parfait", if you will ;-) ZinedineZidane98 (talk) 06:34, 5 May 2014 (UTC)
I don't. It would be a pyrrhic victory if French casualties were so high they had put an end to the French offensive, but it seems that the major factor there was the failure to destroy the Russian army - from that point of view, it is hard to argue it was even a victory, because Napoleon may have finished in possession of the field, but without achieving his real objective.
The tension here seems to be between the fact that many sources do use that expression (which they do) and the fact that that's not actually what "pyrrhic victory" means (which it doesn't). I think it's best as-is, frankly. Pinkbeast (talk) 16:02, 7 May 2014 (UTC)
There are a lot of Historians that conclude that this was a pyrrhic victory. I am not sure that I agree but I'd just love to leave the results box empty the article is where the answers lie.Tirronan (talk) 03:56, 22 May 2014 (UTC)
"Tactical victory, failed strategic objective" would be better than "pyrrhic victory", even. But I agree leaving it blank is best. Pinkbeast (talk) 11:28, 22 May 2014 (UTC)
Actually, it is quite analogous to another great example of a Pyrrhic victory, that of the first battle in history of which we have any reliable and detailed information concerning tactics and outcome: The Battle of Kadesh (Look it up: ZinedineZidane98 (talk) 18:45, 16 August 2014 (UTC)
Alexander Mikaberidze: The Battle of Borodino. Napoleon against Kurtusov. Pen and Sword, Barnsley 2007 (p. 203) and Михневич Н. Отечественная война 1812 г. // История русской армии 1812-1864 гг.. — Санкт-Петербург: Полигон, 2003. — С. 3 and numerous good sources from Google Books: ZinedineZidane98 (talk) 11:07, 17 August 2014 (UTC)

Взятие Москвы Наполеоном в 1812-м году. А также формально выигранное им Бородинское сражение, в котором он практически лишился кавалерии, которая теоретически могла бы защитить его линии снабжения от партизан. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:13, 20 August 2014 (UTC)

  1. ^ Schmidle, Robert (2008). Global Conflict Resolution Through Positioning Analysis. Springer New York. pp. 189–206. ISBN 978-0-387-72112-5. 
  2. ^ Weigley, Russell F. (1991). The Age of Battles: The Quest for Decisive Warfare from Breitenfeld to Waterloo. Indiana University Press. pp. 445–449. ISBN 978-0253217073. 
  3. ^ Mandel, Robert (July 2007). "Reassessing Victory in Warfare". Armed Forces & Society 33 (4): 461–495. 
  4. ^ Hollingsworth, Barry (March 1966). "The Napoleonic Invasion of Russia and Recent Soviet Historical Writing". The Journal of Modern History 38 (1): 38–52. 
  5. ^ Connelly, Owen (2006). Blundering to Glory: Napoleon's Military Campaigns. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. pp. 167–170. ISBN 978-0742553187.