was Russia’s war of liberation against the aggression by Napoleon Bonaparte’s army.
Napoleon’s troops (approximately 610,000 soldiers) invaded Russia on June 25, 1812. They were opposed by two Russian armies (approximately 240,000 soldiers) which retreated in battles, evading Napoleon’s attempts to engage them in combat separately and defeat. On August 4, 1812 both armies joined forced nearby Smolensk and repelled enemy attempts to advance towards St Petersburg and Riga. The Battle of Smolensk (August 17-19, 1812) foiled Napoleon’s plan to destroy the Russian army’s main forces.
On August 8, 1812 Mikhail Kutuzov was appointed commander-in-chief of all active Russian armies. The Battle of Borodino, the major battle of the 1812 Patriotic War, was fought on September 8. On September 14, the decision was made for the Russian forces to abandon Moscow. French troops entered the city on September 15, and a massive fire started the same day ultimately destroyed nearly the entire city.
In September and October, the armies of Mikhail Kutuzov cut off roads to Russia’s southern provinces, replenished their forces, weapons and ammunition. Napoleon’s attempts to initiate negotiations were rejected. French forces in Moscow suffered a severe shortage of food and supplies since their foragers were hunted and eliminated by guerrillas and regular units.
On October 19, 1812 Napoleon’s forces abandoned Moscow. The Battle of Maloyaroslavets (October 25) forced the French army to retreat along the earlier desolated Old Smolensk Road, pressed out by the vanguard of the Russian army and constantly attacked by guerrillas and Cossacks from the flanks. Most of Napoleon’s army was killed or captured during the Battle of Berezina on November 27-29, 1812. In December, its remainder was driven out of Russia.
The Russian army's foreign campaigns of 1813-1814 ended with the seizure of Paris (March 31, 1814) and the fall of Napoleon's empire.