Tag Archives: Napoleon

Model Soldiers, by Joel Bowman

Model soldiers, faithfully following orders, kill many people, including civilians, and many die themselves. From Joel Bowman at internationalman.com:

When Napoleon crossed the Niemen, at the outset of the 1812 French invasion of Russia, he had under his command 422,000 men, give or take a few proudly beating hearts. When he approached those same waters the following year, this time from the east, in sluggish, worn down retreat after defeats in Moscow, Borodino, Smolensk…his ranks had been cut to barely 10,000.

A few enfeebled diehards were all that remained of the Grande Armée.

[Pictured: Charles Joseph Minard’s famous graph shows the decreasing size of the Grande Armée. The brown line (followed from left to right) shows Napoleon’s march to Russia. The black line (followed from right to left) depicts his retreat. The size of the army is shown equal to the width of the lines.]

Like politicians and their voting public, military strategists too are slow to learn and quick to forget. Napoleon wasn’t the only fool to covet the vast plains of the east. One hundred and thirty years later, with “Lebensraum” (living space) firmly in his sights, Adolf Hitler embarked on Operation Barbarossa. It would be the largest military operation in human history, both in terms of manpower… and casualties.

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