Order of battle of the French invasion of Russia

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This is the order of battle of the French invasion of Russia.

Grande Armée[edit]

Napoleon organized the Grande Armée of 674,000 men, the largest army assembled up to that point in European history. On June 24, 1812 almost half a million men from this multinational army crossed the river Neman and headed towards Moscow.

Grande Armee composition.

Commander-in-Chief: Emperor Napoleon.

Chief of Staff: Major Général (Chief of Staff) Maréchal Louis-Alexandre Berthier, 1st Duc de Wagram, 1st Duc de Valengin, 1st Sovereign Prince de Neuchâtel

In addition National Guards had been conscripted for full military service defending the imperial frontier of the Duchy of Warsaw. With these included total French imperial forces on the Russian border and in Russia came to almost 674,000 men. This vast commitment of manpower severely strained the Empire — especially considering that there were a further 220,000 French troops fighting in Iberia and over 100,000 more in Germany and Italy.

The army consisted of:

  • 300,000 troops from the French Empire[1]
    • 14,000 Dutch from annexed Kingdom of Holland (Du)
    • 10,000 Flemish and Walloon from annexed Belgium territories
    • 10,000 Germans from annexed North Germany and left bank of the Rhine River (Ge)
    • 10,000 Italians from annexed Piedmont, Liguria, Tuscany, Parma and Rome
  • 108,000 Poles (Po)
    • 67,000 Polish from Duchy of Warsaw
    • 12,000 Polish National Guard, depot companies and garrisons in defence of Duchy of Warsaw
    • 10,000 Polish in French service (Vistula Legion, 8th Chevauleger-Lancer, 1st and 3rd Guard Chevauleger-Lancer)
    • 19,000 new formed regiments during campaign in Lithuania
  • 110,000 Germans from Rhine Confederation
  • 27,000 Italians [3] from Napoleonic Kingdom of Italy (It)
  • 8,000 Neapolitans majority never went to Russia, part garrisoned in Danzig, part were sent back to Naples (Ne)
  • 9,000 Swiss [1] (German sources[4] mention 16,000) (Sw)
  • 4,800 Spanish (Sp)
  • 3,500 Croats there could be more Croats which servised in few different regiments (Cr)
  • 2,000 Portuguese (Pt)
  • 5,900 Illyrian, Dalmatian and Mediterranean minorities (Il)
  • 20,000 Prussians.[1] There servised Prussian German, but also some Polish from Silesia, West and East Prussia (Pr)
  • 34,000 Austrian Corps under Schwarzenberg. (Au) This corps consisted of several nationalities:
    • 8,000 Polish and Ruthenian-Ukrainian from Galicia
    • 2,700 Bohemians and Moravians Czechs
    • 2,600 Croats
    • 9,700 German Austrians
    • 11,000 Hungarians, Slovaks, Serbs, Romanians, Ruthenian-Ukrainian

Anthony Joes in Journal of Conflict Studies wrote that:[5]

Figures on how many men Napoleon took into Russia and how many eventually came out vary rather widely.

  • [Georges] Lefebvre says that Napoleon crossed the Neman with over 600,000 soldiers, only half of whom were from France, the others being mainly Germans and Poles.
  • Felix Markham thinks that 450,000 crossed the Neman on 25 June 1812, of whom less than 40,000 recrossed in anything like a recognizable military formation.
  • James Marshall-Cornwall says 510,000 Imperial troops entered Russia.
  • Eugene Tarle believes that 420,000 crossed with Napoleon and 150,000 eventually followed, for a grand total of 570,000.
  • Richard K. Riehn provides the following figures: 685,000 men marched into Russia in 1812, of whom around 355,000 were French; 31,000 soldiers marched out again in some sort of military formation, with perhaps another 35,000 stragglers, for a total of less than 70,000 known survivors.

Whatever the accurate number, it is generally accepted that the overwhelming majority of this grand army, French and allied, remained, in one condition or another, inside Russia.

M. Minard's infographic (see below) depicts the march ingeniously by showing the size of the advancing army, overlaid on a rough map, as well as the retreating soldiers together with temperatures recorded (as much as 30 below zero on the Réaumur scale) on their return. The numbers on this chart have 422,000 crossing the Neman with Napoleon, 22,000 taking a side trip early on in the campaign, 100,000 surviving the battles en route to Moscow and returning from there; only 4,000 survive the march back, to be joined by 6,000 that survived that initial 22,000 in the feint attack northward; in the end, only 10,000 cross the Neman back out of the initial 422,000.[6]

Adam Zamoyski estimated that between 550,000 and 600,000 French and allied troops (including reinforcements) operated beyond the Niemen, of which as many as 400,000 troops died.[7]

Russian Imperial Army[edit]

The forces immediately facing Napoleon consisted of three armies comprising 175,000 Russians and 15,000 Cossacks, with 938 guns as follows:

Monument to Kutuzov in front of the Kazan Cathedral in Saint Petersburg. The Kazan Cathedral and the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow were built to commemorate the Russian victory against Napoleon.

General of Infantry Mikhail Bogdanovich Barclay de Tolly served as the Commander in Chief of the Russian Armies, a field commander of the First Western Army and Minister of War until replaced by Mikhail Kutuzov who assumed the role of Commander-in-chief during the retreat after the Battle of Smolensk.

As irregular cavalry, the Cossack horsemen of the Russian steppes were best suited to reconnaissance, scouting, and harassing the enemy's flanks and supply lines. Seldom were they committed to execute a conventional charge in battle.
    • Corps General of Infantry Kamenski
    • Corps General Lieutenant Markov
    • Corps General Lieutenant Osten-Sacken
    • Cavalry Corps General Major Lambert

There also were forces gathered in several places:

  • Riga Corps (lieutenant general I. N. Essen Ist)
  • Finland Corps (General Lieutenant F. F. Shteyngel) arrived on fronline later
  • Ist Reserve Corps (General Adjutant baron E. I. Meller-Zakomelskiy)
  • IInd Reserve Corps (General Lieutenant F. F. Ertel)
  • Bobruysk Detachment (General Major G. A. Ignatev)
  • Smolensk Reserve Corps(General Adjutant baron F. F. Wintsingerode)
  • Kaluga Reserve Corps (General of the Infantry of Mikhail Miloradovich)
  • 27th Infantry Division (General Major D. P. Neverovskiy)
  • Danube Army Admiral Pavel Chichagov in South Ukraine and Besarabia, arrived on frontline later
    • I Corps (General of Infantry Langeron)
    • II Corps (General Lieutenant Essen-IIIrd)
    • III Corps (General Lieutenant Voinov)
    • IV Corps (General Lieutenant Zass)
    • Reserve Corps (General Lieutenant Sabaneiev)
  • Detachment in Serbia (General Major N. I. Luders)

These forces, however, could count on reinforcements from the second line, which totaled 129,000 men and 8,000 Cossacks, with 434 guns and 433 rounds of ammo.

Of these about 105,000 men were actually available for the defense against the invasion. In the third line were the 36 recruit depots and militias, which came to the total of approximately 161,000 men of various and highly disparate military values, of which about 133,000 actually took part in the defense.

Thus, the grand total of all Russian forces was 488,000 men, of which about 428,000 gradually came into action against the Grand Armee. This bottom line, however, includes more than 80,000 Cossacks and militiamen, as well as about 20,000 men who garrisoned the fortresses in the operational area.

Sweden, Russia's only ally, did not send supporting troops. But the alliance made it possible to withdraw part troops from the 45,000 man Russian corps Steinheil from Finland and use it in the later battles (20,000 men were sent to Riga).[9]


  1. ^ a b c d Riehn, Richard K, p. 81.
  2. ^ according to the Landesmuseum in Westphalias former capital Kassel
  3. ^ Grab, Alexander (2009). Conscription in the Napoleonic Era. p. 131.
  4. ^ Meyers Konversationslexikon 1888
  5. ^ Anthony James Joes. Continuity and Change in Guerrilla War: The Spanish and Afghan Cases, Journal of Conflict Studies Vol. XVI No. 2, Fall 1997. Footnote 27, cites
    • Georges Lefebvre, Napoleon from Tilsit to Waterloo (New York: Columbia University Press, 1969), vol. II, pp. 311–12.
    • Felix Markham, Napoleon (New York: Mentor, 1963), pp. 190, 199.
    • James Marshall-Cornwall: Napoleon as Military Commander (London: Batsford, 1967), p. 220.
    • Eugene Tarle: Napoleon's Invasion of Russia 1812 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1942), p. 397.
    • Richard K. Riehn See 1812: Napoleon's Russian Campaign (New York: John Wiley, 1991), pp. 77 and 501
  6. ^ See a large copy of the chart here Archived 2011-07-07 at the Wayback Machine., but discussed at length in Edward Tufte, The Visual Display of Quantitative Information (London: Graphics Press, 1992)
  7. ^ Zamoyski 2005, p. 536 — note this includes deaths of prisoners during captivity
  8. ^ a b c Riehn, Richard K, p. 88.
  9. ^ Helmert/Usczek: Europäische Befreiungskriege 1808 bis 1814/15, Berlin 1986