• Due to a glitch in the old vBulletin software, some users were "banned" when they tried to change their passwords at the end of February. This does not apply after the site was converted to Xenforo. If you were affected by this, please us viua the Contact us link in the footer.

Did typhus defeat Napoleon's Grand Armeé?


Partizan

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 5, 2005
Messages
7,830
Napoleon march to Russia in 1812: Typhus spread by lice was more powerful than Tchaikovsky’s cannonfire. - Slate Magazine

The common perception is that it was the combination of the extreme Russian climate (General Winter) as well as the brilliant tactics of Marshal Kutuzov (Borodino, burning of Moscow and the continued harassment of the French forces by the Cossacks). However a new book just published claims that it was typhus that was the ultimate undoing of Napoleon's Grand Armeé. Typhus is spread by the faeces of lice in unhygenic conditions. It was a big killer in the Great Famine three decades later in Ireland.
 


Partizan

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 5, 2005
Messages
7,830
It was also very cold. Something that defeated Hitler a century later.
Yes but Napoleon did not have medical advancements and technology that Hitler possessed in 1941. Pre 20th century armies biggest killers were diseases like typhus than those taken in actual combat due to poor sanitation, hygiene and lack of knowledge of modern medicine. It was only after the Crimean War that armies began to implement improvements in conditions.
 
Last edited:

Analyzer

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 14, 2011
Messages
46,189
Being led by a meglamaniac did not help either.
 

neveragain

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 10, 2011
Messages
4,433
Extremely harsh weather and an over-extended supply line did for him.
With that combination an army would be hard pressed to survive a common cold.
 

between the bridges

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 21, 2011
Messages
45,655
it was a combination of factors, weather etc, the Russian tactic of 'scorched earth' and attacks on Boneys stretched supply lines lead to starvation and diseases. Under the unofficial rules of war (at the time) if your capital was captured you had lost! the Russians didn't play by the rules. If the french and allies had been able to spend the winter in a fully supplied Moscow there may well have been a different outcome...
 

firefly123

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 8, 2009
Messages
28,165
Should also be noted that the invasion started in Summer and the original hope was that Russia would surrender.

The parallels with the 1941 invasion are amazing.

Napoleon invaded on June 24th. Hitler on June 22nd. Neither planned for a winter campaign.
So when the conscripted EU army attacks we should head out in April. Sorted ;)
 

mary_queen_of_the_gael

Well-known member
Joined
Jul 14, 2012
Messages
3,189


Cue the Minard graph, the greatest graph in all of statistics, a nascent beta curve. Look at the attrition rate from the three generals of cold, hunger and "the other one".

Napoleon's horses also had the wrong shoes and the foraging which kept the Grand Armee going in earlier times was not on in Russia where the blunt cudgel of the Russian peasant dun them in just like they did a later army.

Then you had the infamous crossing of the Berezina River with the Rooskies causing sheer havoc.

Napoleon's Russia adventure gave us Minard's graph, Napoleon's defeat, Tolstoy's opus, the 1812 overture and Carl von Clausewitz's On War.

Interesting times.
 

Analyzer

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 14, 2011
Messages
46,189

firefly123

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 8, 2009
Messages
28,165


Cue the Minard graph, the greatest graph in all of statistics, a nascent beta curve. Look at the attrition rate from the three generals of cold, hunger and "the other one".

Napoleon's horses also had the wrong shoes and the foraging which kept the Grand Armee going in earlier times was not on in Russia where the blunt cudgel of the Russian peasant dun them in just like they did a later army.

Then you had the infamous crossing of the Berezina River with the Rooskies causing sheer havoc.

Napoleon's Russia adventure gave us Minard's graph, Napoleon's defeat, Tolstoy's opus, the 1812 overture and Carl von Clausewitz's On War.

Interesting times.
Jebus! It's like an earlier 19th century Cassandra Syndrome :)
 

Analyzer

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 14, 2011
Messages
46,189
Looks like the Irish PAYE taxes going to war with insolvent Irish banks developers.

Writedowns all along the way. And then whimpering home. Until there is nothing left.

Except pension pots for Fingers, and the house that the Missus of Seanie Fitzy shares with Seanie Fitzy.
 
Last edited:

drummed

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 22, 2010
Messages
37,436
Looks like the Irish PAYE taxes going to war with insolvent Irish banks developers.

Writedowns all along the way. And then whimpering home. Until there is nothing left.

Except pension pots for Fingers, and the house that the Missus of Seanie Fitzy shares with Seanie Fitzy.
Is there no thread you can't get that post into?:shock2:
 

Catalpast

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 17, 2012
Messages
26,119
Having just read Count Segur's two volume account of the 1812 Russian Campaign it is clear that the biggest factor in the attrition rate was lack of supplies as after the first few weeks the Army had to live off the Countryside

There was just not enough supplies available to feed an army of that magnitude on its march to Moscow

- let alone on the retreat

Also when the Emperor departed Moscow he hoped to resupply the remanents of his force at Smolensk

- but not enough supplies were there and what there was could not be distributed evenly so that ,many of the poor wretches got nothing...:?
 

New Threads

Popular Threads

Most Replies

Top