Napoleon was one of the greatest military leaders of all time.
By 1812 Napoleon had expanded the territory of France all over Europe
including Spain, Italy, Holland, and Switzerland. The countries that
Napoleon did not directly control, he was usually allied with. The
turning point of Napoleon's career also came in 1812 when war broke
out between France and Russia because of Alexander I's refusal to
enforce the continental.
Even the French nation could not provide all the manpower and
supplies needed to carry out the Emperor's grandiose plan for subduing
Russia. Throughout 1811, he worked to mobilize the entire continent
against Russia. He not only levied the vassal kingdoms in Spain,
Italy, and Germany but also summoned Austria and Prussia to furnish
their share of men and goods. Altogether, Napoleon could count on
nearly 700,000 men of 20 nationalities of whom more than 600,000
crossed the border. Grown far beyond its original intended size, the
army was difficult to assemble and hard to feed. Between Tilsit and
Moscow, there lay over 600 miles of hostile barren countryside.
Because of lack of supplies and the difficulty to feed the large army,
Napoleon's plan was simple: bring about a battle, defeat the Russian
army, and dictate a settlement. Apparently neither he nor his
soldiers, who cheerfully began crossing the Nieman River, thought
beyond the immediate goal.
Already 300 miles into Russia, Napoleon had not yet found a
way to exploit his advantage. In the Emperor's programming the
resources necessary to achieve his objective, he had anticipated
fighting a battle within a month after crossing the Nieman. Toward the
end of that month Napoleon began to realize that events were
disproving the validity of his estimates. Dying horses littered the
roads and the advanced guard found little forage as Russians
everywhere abandoned their homes. Napoleon knew that he needed to