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Vilna 1812- what caused the massive deaths?

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  • Vilna 1812- what caused the massive deaths?

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/4534540.stm
    Typhus? or an actual battle
    the army arrived in Vilnius on Dec. 8. Only 20,000 soldiers remained that could be considered fit enough to fight. Having heard of an impending coup d’etat in France by Gen. Claude François de Malet, Napoleon left Gen. Joachim Murat in charge and hastened to Paris. Murat refused to make a stand in Vilnius—he left his guns and the booty obtained in Moscow to the advancing Russians and retreated back toward the Nieman

    In six days 85 % of the gathered French succumbed in Vilnius0 37,000 bodies were buried in eight mass trench graves.
    http://www.slate.com/articles/health...owerful.2.html
    The trout who swims against the current gets the most oxygen..

  • #2
    The French artillery had to be abandoned as they could not be hauled up an icy slope. The gun teams were exhausted and were not shod properly for the winter snow and ice.

    It had nothing to do with the Russians.

    Sincerely,
    M
    We are not now that strength which in old days
    Moved earth and heaven; that which we are we are; One equal temper of heroic hearts
    Made weak by time and fate but strong in will
    To strive to seek to find and not to yield.

    Comment


    • #3
      a roll the dice attitude to logistics

      Originally posted by Massena View Post
      The French artillery had to be abandoned as they could not be hauled up an icy slope. The gun teams were exhausted and were not shod properly for the winter snow and ice.

      It had nothing to do with the Russians.

      Sincerely,
      M
      appears to have permeated French Planning. supplying an army of 500,000 by WAGOn over dirt roads requires years of planning- building up retundas, building repair depots, farming & stocking hay& oats & yes- horseshoes.
      And roads. Drained gravelled roads. he Roman appraoch..
      The trout who swims against the current gets the most oxygen..

      Comment


      • #4
        This guy stepped off a high cliff and fell to his death.

        Falling and not any man-inflicted injury was the reason for his death, this is clear to anyone.

        And the man who forced him to make the step at gunpoint has nothing, totally nothing to do with it!!!!!!!1111
        www.histours.ru

        Siege of Leningrad battlefield tour

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Massena View Post
          The French artillery had to be abandoned as they could not be hauled up an icy slope. The gun teams were exhausted and were not shod properly for the winter snow and ice.

          It had nothing to do with the Russians.

          Sincerely,
          M
          Adam Zamoyksi mentions in his book "1812", that the slope could have been prepared by the authorities before the retreat, so that not only the artillery but also the war chest could have been saved.

          You think he is right?
          "Every man thinks meanly of himself for not having been a soldier" - Samuel Johnson

          "Kerls, wollt ihr denn ewig leben?"

          Comment


          • #6
            20/20 hindsight. Zamoyski also mentioned that the Russian artillery arm was the best in Europe, for which he offered no proof and didn't support his theory at all. Careful research, especially taking a look at the Zhmodikov's two-volume study on Russian tactics of the period, would have provided the information regarding the problems with the Russian artillery arm of the period.

            Sincerely,
            M
            We are not now that strength which in old days
            Moved earth and heaven; that which we are we are; One equal temper of heroic hearts
            Made weak by time and fate but strong in will
            To strive to seek to find and not to yield.

            Comment


            • #7
              I know its speculative, but if you consider that someone else could have been in command, e.g. Davout and not Murat, I think many lives could have been rescued in the period after Vilnius.

              Don´t you think, with some forward planning, it could have been possible to prepare the critical passages of the route to the Njemen?
              "Every man thinks meanly of himself for not having been a soldier" - Samuel Johnson

              "Kerls, wollt ihr denn ewig leben?"

              Comment


              • #8
                At that point in the campaign there was neither the time nor material to do any preparation for anything logistically. The Grande Armee was a wreck and both the French and Russian armies were disintegrating from exposure and hunger as well as exhaustion.

                I've been that cold in the field (Korea in the winter is not fun, especially if you're on an exercise in the open), but not under those conditions, which have to be numbered amongst the worst in military history.

                Most of the Grande Armee's baggage and extra material had been burned at Orsha, which had included Eble's pontoon train (over his strenuous objections). Eble saved enough equipment and supplies to build the bridges over the Berezina from that giant bonfire, but much logisitical material went up in flames and smoke to lighten the army's load and ensure that the Russians didn't get it.

                Before the campaign began, however, the French logistical effort was immense, including building up large, well-stocked magazines to support the army in the field. Napoleon increased the supply train battalions that went in with the army, but in the end too many of the support personnel botched their jobs (such as in Smolensk and Vilna) and resupply was difficult under those conditions (it should be noted that Jomini was military governor of both Smolensk and Vilna and proved incompetent in those posts, illustrating the resupply problem). Fortunately for the army, the administrative staff at Orsha proved they could make 'bricks without straw' and resupplied the troops quickly and efficiently, including rearming those who were without weapons and even issuing field pieces to gun companies that were short.

                Sincerely,
                M
                We are not now that strength which in old days
                Moved earth and heaven; that which we are we are; One equal temper of heroic hearts
                Made weak by time and fate but strong in will
                To strive to seek to find and not to yield.

                Comment


                • #9
                  I have read of an incident outside Vilnius where thousands of French infantry died in one night. They had been deployed to cover the approach to the city but without proper clothing or shelter they died where they stood, freezing in formation.

                  Sounds like the French commanders just had no idea of the effect of extreme cold.
                  "To be free is better than to be unfree - always."

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    So Kutusovs' strategy

                    Originally posted by Massena View Post
                    At that point in the campaign there was neither the time nor material to do any preparation for anything logistically. The Grande Armee was a wreck and both the French and Russian armies were disintegrating from exposure and hunger as well as exhaustion.

                    I've been that cold in the field (Korea in the winter is not fun, especially if you're on an exercise in the open), but not under those conditions, which have to be numbered amongst the worst in military history.

                    Most of the Grande Armee's baggage and extra material had been burned at Orsha, which had included Eble's pontoon train (over his strenuous objections). Eble saved enough equipment and supplies to build the bridges over the Berezina from that giant bonfire, but much logisitical material went up in flames and smoke to lighten the army's load and ensure that the Russians didn't get it.

                    Before the campaign began, however, the French logistical effort was immense, including building up large, well-stocked magazines to support the army in the field. Napoleon increased the supply train battalions that went in with the army, but in the end too many of the support personnel botched their jobs (such as in Smolensk and Vilna) and resupply was difficult under those conditions (it should be noted that Jomini was military governor of both Smolensk and Vilna and proved incompetent in those posts, illustrating the resupply problem). Fortunately for the army, the administrative staff at Orsha proved they could make 'bricks without straw' and resupplied the troops quickly and efficiently, including rearming those who were without weapons and even issuing field pieces to gun companies that were short.

                    Sincerely,
                    M
                    Of wearing down the Grande Armee instead of risking battle paid off, as he arrived with 40,000 effective troops at Vilna & 'tore apart' the piecemeal defense - guaranteeing victory in 1813?
                    Vilna has been 'blotted out' of the Frnech memory- but 37,000 deaths was HUGE.
                    http://www.nytimes.com/2002/09/14/wo...on-s-army.html
                    Discourages local recruiting..
                    Last edited by marktwain; 30 Dec 12, 14:25.
                    The trout who swims against the current gets the most oxygen..

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Massena View Post
                      20/20 hindsight. Zamoyski also mentioned that the Russian artillery arm was the best in Europe, for which he offered no proof and didn't support his theory at all. Careful research, especially taking a look at the Zhmodikov's two-volume study on Russian tactics of the period, would have provided the information regarding the problems with the Russian artillery arm of the period.

                      Sincerely,
                      M
                      If so, (I'm not an expert on early XIX century warfare, sorry), Russian artillery had been drastically improved when Napoleon III sent troops to Crimea. Christopher Hibbert' book (recommended to everyone interested in the British POV on the Crimean War) tells Russians had artillery second to none. Some decades later.
                      "Keep Calm. Use Less X's"

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by marktwain View Post
                        Of wearing down the Grande Armee instead of risking battle paid off, as he arrived with 40,000 effective troops at Vilna & 'tore apart' the piecemeal defense - guaranteeing victory in 1813?
                        vilna has been 'blotted out' of the Frnech memory- but 37,000 deaths was HUGE.
                        Discourages local recruiting..
                        Somehow I have doubts that at Vilna there were 40 000 "effective troops". Most memoirs state that troops that could maintain some formation were with very low morale and discipline after such hard retreat.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by dmf01 View Post
                          If so, (I'm not an expert on early XIX century warfare, sorry), Russian artillery had been drastically improved when Napoleon III sent troops to Crimea. Christopher Hibbert' book (recommended to everyone interested in the British POV on the Crimean War) tells Russians had artillery second to none. Some decades later.
                          The Russian artillery arm was probably the most improved over the period of the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars.

                          Some of their problems were unskilled officers at every level and the initial absence of adequate command and control at the division, corps, and army levels. They also had no artillery doctrine above the battery level.

                          Many dedicated officers worked very hard to improve their artillery and the new system of 1805 had them catch up materially with both Prussia and Austria, but the command and control problem was not solved during the period, though great improvements were made. Technically, the Russians were behind the British, French, and Austrians. Their gun teams and drivers were excellent, but their artillery material was not as advanced as either the British or the French.

                          Sincerely,
                          M
                          We are not now that strength which in old days
                          Moved earth and heaven; that which we are we are; One equal temper of heroic hearts
                          Made weak by time and fate but strong in will
                          To strive to seek to find and not to yield.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by dmf01 View Post
                            If so, (I'm not an expert on early XIX century warfare, sorry), Russian artillery had been drastically improved when Napoleon III sent troops to Crimea. Christopher Hibbert' book (recommended to everyone interested in the British POV on the Crimean War) tells Russians had artillery second to none. Some decades later.
                            What sources did Hibbert use for his judgment on the Russian artillery arm?

                            Sincerely,
                            M
                            We are not now that strength which in old days
                            Moved earth and heaven; that which we are we are; One equal temper of heroic hearts
                            Made weak by time and fate but strong in will
                            To strive to seek to find and not to yield.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Ulrih View Post
                              Somehow I have doubts that at Vilna there were 40 000 "effective troops". Most memoirs state that troops that could maintain some formation were with very low morale and discipline after such hard retreat.
                              I believe you mean 'pursuit'
                              The recent archelogical evidence suggests that Vilnuis was a French Charnel house - which indicates some effective Russian planning & strategy.

                              Kutusov, whatever his faults, really punished the remains of the Grande Armee - right in front of the Poles & Lithuanians.

                              Apparently, most of the organised troops were fleeing for Prussian refuge...
                              The trout who swims against the current gets the most oxygen..

                              Comment

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