On This Day in Napoleonic History – 18 July 1812

napoleon_meissonierNapoleon arrives at Glubokoi

Having left Vilna, Napoleon established his army magazines at Glubokoi, where he stayed for four days in the Carmelite convict, attending mass, setting up a hospital, inspecting the Guards and attending to his army’s needs, of which there were many. The conditions of the march were atrocious and the army wasn’t doing well. ‘Hundreds killed themselves, feeling no longer able to endure such hardships. Every day one heard isolated shots ring out in the woods,’ recalled a German soldier belonging to the Grande Armée. There was hardly any food and a large percentage of the troops contracted typhus.

Napoleon didn’t realise how bad the situation really was. Although he still paid as much personal attention to the army as he always had, the sheer size of the Grande Armée meant that he relied far more on the reports of his commanders than ever before. The culture of the army had changed on this campaign. Napoleon was no longer close to his men. His marshals, who would never before dream of deceiving him, regularly lied to him about the state of the troops.

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