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Estate of William F. Adams | all galleries >> Treasures of the Russian Czars -- Moscow to St. Petersburg > Metro Napoleon Mural.jpg
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Metro Napoleon Mural.jpg

Metro Napoleon Mural.jpg

Moscow, Russia

The Napoleonic War of 1812 mural in the Moscow Metro commemorates what Russians call the Patriotic War. Napoleon attacked Russia with more than 600,000 troops seeking to overthrow the Czar, and plunder Russia's treasury and natural resources. Napoleon invaded after Czar Alexander threateningly massed troops along the Polish border and had refused to cooperate with Napoleon's policy toward Great Britain.

But, rather than surrender, the Muscovites burned the city in September 1812, leaving nothing to plunder. Napoleon abandoned the City to return to France on October 19 with his remaining 130,000 troops just as one of Winter's deepest freezes was about to set in. The temperature on October 18 had fallen to freezing, and it would fall steadily to more than 33 degrees below 0 Celsius before the tragic retreat ended in December 1812.

After the The Battle of Maloyaroslavets, which took place just south of Moscow on October 24, 1812, Napoleon's Grand Armee had only one avenue of retreat, back through the barren path that had already been plundered by both armies during the initial invasion. Only 6,000 men out of the original French army and mercenaries survived the entire homeward trek beyond Vilnius, as they were constantly attacked by emboldened Russian troops and Cossacks under the direction of Kutuzov. The rest of the Grand Armee froze to death, starved, died of typhus, dysentery, gangrene or battle wounds.

The central figure in the mural is most likely the one-eyed Russian Field Marshal Kutuzov (thanks to Alex Tratov for this insight).

Nikon D2x ,Nikkor 17-55mm f/2.8G ED-IF AF-S DX
1/60s f/2.8 at 23.0mm iso100 with Flash full exif

other sizes: small medium large original
Guest 04-Feb-2006 00:10
I bet it's not Napoleon. I bet it's Kutuzov. I have not been in Moscow for ages and never saw the mural, but I am quite sure. Kutuzov is the Russian general, who takes the blame for the annihilation of the French Grand Army in 1812.

And since I am yakking about the story ... There is a couple of other things - rather common misconceptions.

First. Russian winter had little to do with Napoleon's defeat in 1812. Moscow was burned in September. He began his chaotic retreat in October. It was warm.

Second. Napoleon started the war not so much to "overthrow the Czar and plunder Russia's treasury and natural resources". He just wanted Russia to keep the blockade of Britain. Tsar Alexander withdrew from the Continental System on December 31, 1810, and began openly trading with Britain. That's when and why Napoleon got pissed.

It's a cool gallery. Thank you. I have never seen the mural, but I suspect you shot it at Kutuzov Metro Station.