News2012.06.26 10:48

Re-enactment of Napoleon's Grand Army

2012.06.26 10:48

Lithuania held International Festival of Living History in Kaunas named 'Europe: Napoleon I in Kaunas, 1812'. During this festival the passage of Napoleon's Grand Army through Lithuania in its attack on Imperial Russia was re-enacted.

This festival was dedicated to 200 years anniversary of Napoleon's troops crossing the river Nemunas. Many historians call this crossing one of the most successful in history.

From Friday to Sunday the atmosphere of nineteenth century dominated in Kaunas. There were French and Russian camps in the city. Soldiers with nineteenth century uniforms and weapons were marching through the streets.

During the festival Kaunas held a lot of various events such as crafts fairs, exhibitions, excursions, foldings of the Napoleon Bonaparte's bicorne hat, performances of musical and art groups. But the most important were the re-enactments of the Napoleon's troops crossing the Nemunas and the battle of Deltuva between French and Russian armies.

Because of these events, the level of river Nemunas was raised two times. The rise was necessary for pontoons that shipped soldiers. During the re-enactment of the battle 25 cannons were used. They fired 200 kilos of black powder. The role of Napoleon was played by famous warfare expert from Russia Oleg Sokolov.

About 1000 history re-constructors from France, Russia, Poland and other neighbouring countries were attending the festival. 400 tents were built near the junction of Nemunas and Neris rivers where military camps were reconstructed. 40 cavaliers from France had also performed.

The unsuccessful French invasion of Russia in 1812 was one of the most crucial events in XIX century. Although Napoleon won the main battle of Borodino and captured Moscow, it failed to destroy Russian army and Russia refused to capitulate. With no clear sign of victory, Napoleon began his disastrous Great Retreat from Moscow. The Grand Army had lost 380,000 men dead and 100,000 captured. The invasion dramatically weakened French hegemony in Europe. The reputation of Napoleon as an undefeated military genius was severely shaken.

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