1812: The Great Retreat – the third and final volume in Austin’s magisterial trilogy – concludes the story of one of history’s most disastrous campaigns. The author’s previous books on the campaign – 1812: The March on Moscow and 1812: Napoleon in Moscow – brought the Grand Army to the head-on battle at Malo-Jaroslavetz after withdrawing sixty miles from the burnt down capital, and for the first time in his meteoric career Napoleon had to order a retreat. This volume follows the army’s withdrawal through 800 miles of devastated countryside, crossing the horrific relics of the Borodino battlefield, fighting its way through the Russian General Kutusov’s successive attempts to cut it off, and winning, against overwhelming odds, the three-day battle of the Berezina crossing. First-hand narratives, many published in English for the first time, describe Marshal Ney’s astounding achievement in holding together the rear-guard until he himself, musket in hand, was the last man to re-cross the Niemen into Poland. Using the words of the participants themselves, Paul Britten Austin brings unparalleled authenticity and immediacy to his unique account of the closing stages of Napoleon’s dramatic and tragic 1812 campaign.
Paul Britten Austin
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Softback 464 pages