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Napoleon’s Astonishing Folly F rench information designer, Charles Minard, created the remark-

able chart above in 1869. Minard captures the utter devastation

of Napoleon’s forces on the far left side of the chart. Listed at
Following setbacks early in the campaign, Napoleon decided
to call it off only to change his mind the next day so he wouldn’t
appear to be weak. In forced marches the French quickly outpaced
The Russian Campaign of 1812 422,000 strong, the Grand Army crossing the Niemen River on their
way to Moscow is represented by the thick, tan line that diminishes
their supply trains. Horses died or were killed for food by the
thousands. When they reached Moscow the Grand Army found
It took time for nearly everyone in Napoleon’s as the numbers steadily decline. Listed at 10,000 “strong,” what it deserted and on fire. Napoleon waited in Moscow for a month
Grand Army to die in Russia, but die they did. was left of Napoleon’s largest army in retreat six month later is hoping the Russians would come back and surrender to him. Bit-
represented by the still-decreasing thin black line below the tan. ter cold insured more suffering during the retreat. For their part,
Hold your mouse over highlighted words A dramatic loss of life is noted at the Berezina River where 22,000 the Russians claimed victory and dubbed the conflict the Patriotic
to see more information. died in two days in scenes of utter chaos and desperation. War (Отечественная война). The world got the 1812 Overture.