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Saturday, 12 February 2011

A book called The Memoirs of Sergeant Bourgogne 1812 - 1813

In the year of 1812 the French Emperor Napoleon gathered a vast army of 600,000 men and invaded imperial Russia. At the time, Napoleon had built France up to be a very powerful country and the nations influence stretched across Europe. With the defeat of Russia, only the United Kingdom would remain and the French Emperor would be able to deal with this nation once all mainland Europe was under his control.

It was to become one of the biggest military disasters in history and by the end of the ordeal - a year later; only 93,000 exhausted soldiers of Napoleon's beloved army would return.

The Russian winter set in during the retreat home
Among the survivors was a soldier called sergeant Bourgogne - a man of the Imperial Guard. Although the French army took the capitol city of Russia (Moscow) There was nothing there and the main population had abandoned the city to retreat into the surrounding wilderness. The prisons were opened and the inmates were granted a full pardon if they looted and burnt the city. This the prisoners did and the French were forced to abandon the city and begin the long march home as the horrendous Russian winter began.

Gruelling retreat
Sergeant Bourgogne documents this and went through all the terrible ordeals in order to survive. He later wrote this account that was first published in 1857. The next complete version was done in 1897 and then translated into English in 1899. It is a terrific read and a gruelling testimony to one man's determination to get back home during one of the most noted horrors to fall upon an army. If you like your history, then give this book a try. I was engrossed and could not put it down.

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