The Battle of Borodino: Napoleon Against Kutuzov by Alexander Mikaberidze

The Battle of Borodino: Napoleon Against Kutuzov by Alexander Mikaberidze

Author:Alexander Mikaberidze [Mikaberidze, Alexander]
Language: eng
Format: epub
Tags: Non-Fiction, History, Military, Napoleonic Wars, Russia
ISBN: 9781848844049
Amazon: 1848844042
Barnesnoble: 1848844042
Goodreads: 1236383
Publisher: Pen and Sword
Published: 2007-11-02T00:00:00+00:00

Extreme Southern Sector – The Old Smolensk Road and Utitsa

On the extreme right flank of the French Army, Poniatowski’s Corps of some 10,000 men had advanced with the first rays of light. Although the shortest route to the Old Smolensk Road was through the woods, the Poles had earlier ascertained that it would be impossible for them to transport their artillery through the dense and marshy Utitsa forest, which was also defended by enemy jägers. As a result, they had to backtrack to Yelnya, where they turned eastward. This march took longer than expected and the Polish attack was delayed when Davout’s forces assaulted Bagration’s positions. Leading the way was the 16th Division, followed by the reserve artillery of forty guns and the 18th Division. Sébastiani’s cavalry was moving in squadron columns south of the road.

The Old Smolensk Road sector was the weakest spot in the Russian positions. Tuchkov commanded about 23,000 men, almost half of them irregular troops. The Opolchenye men, although ardent in their enthusiasm, lacked proper training and were largely armed with pikes and axes. Tuchkov’s initial position was four lines deep, with the irst two lines occupied by the 1st Grenadier Division (deployed in line) and the two rear lines occupied by the 3rd Division, which was arranged in battalion columns. The Moscow and Smolensk Opolchenye were deployed further behind. However, on the morning of 7 September, Tuchkov’s position was weakened by the departure of two jäger regiments (20th and 21st), which were assigned to Shakhovsky’s detachment in the Utitsa woods, and four regiments (the Chernigovskii, Muromskii, Revelskii and Selenginskii) of the 3rd Division, which had been sent to help Bagration around the flèches. Thus, Russian grenadiers carried the brunt of the initial attack of the Polish Corps.

As they approached Tuchkov’s position, the Poles – ‘superb men, with genuine martial attitude and excellent horses’ as one oficer described them369 – engaged the Russian skirmishers near Utitsa. Lieutenant General Stroganov reported that:


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