Napoleon's 1812 Dbq

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Napoleon’s 1812 invasion of Russia offers significant lessons for all levels of war. Prior to France’s 1812 march into the Russian frontier, the French Emperor experienced years of decisive victories, across numerous battlefields. Russia was not victorious in 1812 due to phenomenal planning, brilliant tactical execution, frigid weather, or Russian nationlism. Instead, Russia won the war because of Napoleon’s mistakes at tactical, operational, and the strategic levels. Napoleon lost the 1812 campaign due to his distorted view of the strategic environment and underestimating his own limitations and the capabilites of Russia and Tsar Alexander. Napoleon’s pre-war misconceptions caused the military genius to make poor decisions at every level …show more content…

In 1810, however, Alexander resumed trade with the British and boldy increased the tariffs on French imports. The audacious economic move by the Russian leader infuriated Napoleon so much that the French Emperor assumed that a significant threat towards Russia was the only way to force Russia’s compliance, thus leading to the eventually economic collapse of Great Britain. Napoleon facilitated his enforcement of the continental system through his establishment and expansion of The Duchy of Warsaw. Napoleon viewed The Duchy of Warsaw as a “pistol to intimidate Russian” into continental system compliance. In 1809, Napoleon expanded The Duchy of Warsaw adjacent closer to the Russian border. The enlargement of The Duchy of Warsaw did not intimidate Russian, as Napoleon planned. In fact, Tsar Alexander viewed Napoleon’s build up as a significant threat because Napoleon’s influence was too close to Russian territory. In response, Tsar Alexander determined that the “nakedness of the (western) frontier was unacceptable” and Russia began to fortify and mobilize troops to Russia’s western …show more content…

Napoleon’s insistence for decisive battle benefitted the Russians at Borodino. Just prior to engaging Russian troops as Borodino, Napoleon told his troops “"Soldiers! Here is the battle you have so long desired! Henceforth, victory depends on you; we have need of it." While fighting at Borodino, General’s Ney and Davout requested that Napoleon send reinforcements to the south. Ney and Davout claimed that reinforcements in the south would lead to the collapse General Kutozov’s Russian defense, thus leading to a decisive French victory. The French Emperor denied his commanders’ request and debated that Kutozov was repositioning his center troops to the south in order to reinforce his southern defense. Instead of listening to Ney and Davout, who witnessed Russian forces retreating in the south, Napoleon misinterpreted the situation and dedicated his decisive effort to the center of Kutozov’s forces. Napoleon’s decision proved to be an error. As Napoleon concentrated on the center, General Kutozov successful set the conditions for his defense to hold long enough, in order to allow his forces to withdrawal from Borodino. Napoleon missed the opportunity to achieve his desired decisive victory at Borodino, thus allowing the Russians to retreat before the French could deliver a decisive

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