In George F. Nafziger’s book, Napoleon’s Invasion of Russia, he writes that Napoleon is unfairly criticized for the lack of provisions for the army during the Russian campaign.
Foraging on the move rather than relying on a supply train had worked for the French army’s advantage for many years. Napoleon was aware of the poor foraging situation he would find in Russia. The French studied the Russian campaign of Sweden’s Charles the XII and knew about the Russian’s scorched earth tactic.
Napoleon began accumulating supplies in depots a year prior to the invasion. To move the provisions, Napoleon planned on using wagons and increasing their capacity by adding two more horses to the usual four. This reduced the need for wagons. When rains hit, however, the wagons sank in the poor Russian roads and could not keep up with the advancing army.
Napoleon’s plan was to engage the enemy quickly and not advance as far as Moscow, making a long supply train unnecessary. The Russians, however, refused to stand and fight and Napoleon continued to advance, stretching his supply train.
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