World History





























Napoleon's Invasion of Russia

Napoleon's invasion of Russia turned out to be a disaster.

Napoleon’s downfall began with his biggest military mistake, an attempt to invade and conquer the vastempire of Russia. The Russians had no hope of defeating Napoleon’s huge and powerful Grand Army of more than 600,000 soldiers, the largest army ever assembled in Europe. So, the Russians burned everything in Napoleon’s path to deny his army food and shelter. After a bloody but indecisive battle at Borodino, Napoleon captured the Russian capital of Moscow, but it was nearly empty. Knowing that his army could not survive the coming winter in Russia, Napoleon had to retreat. As the Grand Army made its way back to France, temperatures dropped to 30 degrees below zero during the bitter cold Russian winter of 1812. Between the cold, starvation, Russian attacks, and desertion, only 30,000 of Napoleon’s original soldiers returned to France. It was one of the worst disasters in military history.

Grand Army = the army commanded by Napoleon during the Napoleonic Wars.

Disgraced by the ruin of his Grand Army, then defeated in battles by an alliance of European nations, Napoleon was captured and forced into exile on the small island of Elba off the coast of Italy. It wasn’t long, however, before Napoleon escaped and returned to France where he raised another army. Napoleon met his final defeat at the hands of a British-led allied army near the town of Waterloo, Belgium in 1815. Again, Napoleon was exiled, this time to St. Helena, a remote British island in the South Atlantic, where he died in 1821, probably of stomach cancer or arsenic poisoning.

Waterloo = a town of central Belgium near Brussels. Napoleon met his final defeat in the Battle of Waterloo (1815).

Belgium = A country of northwest Europe on the North Sea. Its capital city is Brussels.