70,000…

A conservative casualty estimate. There were many conflicting versions of events, and the Russians could marginally get away with calling it a victory simply because they stopped Napoleon from advancing any further.

September 7, 1812; the battle of Borodino. This is an event of great national significance for the Russians, akin to Pickett’s Charge at Gettysburg for Americans. They can practically see the future of their country escaping drastic change by just a hair’s breadth.

Napoleon, by today’s standards, was a total nutjob. So were the Russians, of course; any day that these guys put troops in the field, they would probably lose 25,000 on an average. But that was OK.  Soldiers were considered the scum of the earth, and were expected to be more than happy to march in formation into a horrific death to please an emperor/ czar/ etc. They were easily replacable.  Many soldiers were conscripts, and they generally would rather serve in the army than rot in prison or be executed.

Napoleon was also considered to be a military genius, and his tactics were the practical standard well into the 1860’s.  He was especially fond of massed infantry attacks in column formations. They could move very quickly across open ground, but only the front rank could fire their weapons.  Artillery would rip huge gouges in the approaching columns, and if they could then be penetrated by cavalry, the formations would fall apart completely; but if they could manage to get across, then they would usually win the battle.

The Russians apparently make a huge deal out of the Borodino anniversaries. They have re-enactors. I am simply amazed at this. I can’t help but wonder who in the Russian economy can manage the disposable income to outfit themselves for this pastime. ( I speak from bitter experience.)  Putin, I suppose, all his staff, friends, family…that must be about a hundred  guys right there. But where do the rest come from?

Hmm…if the kids will work in the gulag for just a few more years, I’ll be able to get that snappy new shako hat I’ve been needing…

Actually, I understand this completely. I’m just glad to see that we’re not the only ones. Even if the kids have to double up in the gulag bunks for body heat…

Just kidding. They don’t have to do that. I’d send them sub-zero sleeping bags from LL Bean.

But then they’d have to work off the price of those too, so maybe another six months?…

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. don’t have anything to add, as I have a block on for most events in what is considered real history. It is impressive in a way, the conditions (cultural/social/metaphysical) that allow for events like this to be considered ‘not out of the ordinary’. Hell, all you have to do is look at any movie or newsreel footage from the early 20thC… now, what was it that convinced all men over the age of 10 to wear a straw hat?

  2. That would have been a sort of crossover period where hats were still a necessity but also becoming a fashion accessory for townspeople. Straw hats were great because they’re very light, breathe comfortably, and still keep you out of the rain and sun. Confederate soldiers wore them a lot because their relaxed regulations would allow for it, but the Federals typically had to wear the kepis. ( Except the officers, of course ) So the back of your neck and ears were sunburned beyond recognition, and being in the rain was just miserable.
    I know a sutler who can get you a real straw hat, if you’d like…you’d be the talk of the real estate world…and they’d totally buy it in Texas…just tell ’em that if it’s all right with Sam Houston it’s all right with you. And have someone snap a photo in front of the Alamo. Stylin’!


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