The composition of the Great Army of Napoleon during the campaign against Russia. infographics

Exactly 210 years ago — June 24, 1812 — The Great Army of Napoleon Bonaparte crossed the Neman River, unleashing a war with the Russian Empire. The French emperor, striving for European domination, counted on a quick victory. Behind Napoleon brought a huge army  — more than half a million people who spoke, using the rhetoric of Alexander I, "twelve languages".

However, the Great Army eventually met fierce resistance. 26 December 1812, the Patriotic War (in French historiography — the Russian company of 1812 year) ended in a complete and unconditional victory of the Russian and allied forces.

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Who was in the ranks of Napoleon's Great Army?

According to  historian Oleg Sokolov, out of 530 thousand people who went on a trip to Russia, approximately 277 thousand — these are French, and the rest — Foreigners. Moreover, out of these 253 thousand, 222 thousand came from the principalities of Germany. If we also take into account the Austrians, then the number of interventionists who spoke German in Napoleon's army was 256 thousand people. That is almost half of the Great Army.

The historian notes that under the “French” in these calculations do not mean nationality, but citizenship. Not all subjects of Napoleon's empire were ethnically French. Among them were residents of the "new departments" France, included in its composition as a result of military victories. These are the territories of modern Belgium, Holland, Piedmont, central Italy and the German lands of the left bank of the Rhine. Men born in these places served in the army on a common basis.

“If we take the average percentage of immigrants from the & ldquo; new departments & rdquo; in the ranks of the French regiments (i.e. 25%), we get that 69166 soldiers were non-French. Moreover, this figure is the minimum… Thus, rounding the figures, we can say that at least 330 out of 530 thousand. soldiers of the Grand Army were non-French, in other words, 62%, or, at the most rough estimate, three out of five», — the historian writes.

Non-French people mainly participated in the campaign against Russia in two forms. They could be part of foreign contingents that marched on Moscow as part of Napoleon's army, or served in foreign regiments of the French army.

See in's infographics the citizens of which countries fought in  side of France in the war of 1812 .

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