Borodino Aftermath

Faber du Faur painted and wrote about the aftermath including the fate of the Russian prisoners captured the day before.

Near Valueva, 8 September
by Faber du Faur

“Borodino was fought with 120,000 men on each side and more than 1,000 pieces of artillery vomiting death and destruction the entire day.  The Russians, pushed back from their positions and entrenchments, finally conceded defeat and withdrew from the field of battle soaked in the blood of more than 25,000 dead, whose bodies littered the field between Borodino and Semenovskii.  And what were the fruits of victory?  Virtually nil.  Few trophies fell to the victors that bloody day – something that had characterised the campaign to date.  Each army corps had triumphed, yet still we were cheated of a decisive victory.  And we had sustained heavy casualties.”

After the Battle of Borodino
Commemorative 1912 Russian
Candy Box Card

“The Russian army had been beaten but not destroyed.  It withdrew in good order and the victors, who had hoped to savour the fruits of a victory long-promised, including winter quarters and a prompt return to their homeland, found themselves suffering as much now as they had before the battle.  Most of the victors would see the prize, Moscow; would see it ruined and in flames; would experience the cold and the frost of the retreat; and would perish in the icy fields of Russia.”

“The trophies were out of all proportion to the sacrifices we had made – some thirty guns, mostly taken in the redoubts, some of which were too badly damaged to be of service, and some 1,000 prisoners.  These were our spoils!”

“The fate of these prisoners was terrible.  Taken to Smolensk, they were dragged towards the Prussian frontier, tormented by hunger and deprived of even the most basic necessities, and almost all perished before leaving their native land.”

Source:

With Napoleon in Russia: The Illustrated Memoirs of Major Faber du Faur, 1812, Edited by Jonathan North

Image and translation of commemorative 1912 Russian card provided by Alexey Temnikov

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