Memoirs of Sergeant Bourgogne: 1812-1813
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
A compelling account of a French soldier in Napoleon's Imperial Guard. Sergeant Bourgogne tells of his monumental endeavour to survive a catastrophe. He is with the Grand Army when it invades Russia in 1812. He is in Moscow when the city is abandoned to the advancing French army and all the prisoners are released to loot and burn by order of the Russian Tsar. When there is no sign of a negotiation or treaty with the Tsar, the imperial French army decided to abandon the burning city. And so begins the diabolical retreat from Moscow. Sergeant Bourgogne gives an ordinary soldier's perspective of these historical events. Through it all, we see the depleting resources of the Grand Army. The following groups of Cossacks killing the stragglers of the Grand Army. Starvation killing the Grand Army. Soldiers of the Grand Army killing each other. Scattered remnants of more disciplined men try to fight a rearguard action all the way back. Everything seems to be collapsing, but some manage to reach the River Nieman. The journey takes many weeks and it is in bitter Russian winter conditions. Hordes of them freeze to death. For history buffs who like to learn about the Napoleonic Wars. This is a must. A compelling and biographical account of a man who lived every moment of the dreadful ordeal and tells his story about it in his old age.