France and Russia to bury soldiers 200 years after Napoleonic war

WION Web Team
New Delhi Published: Feb 13, 2021, 02:47 PM(IST)

(Representative image) Napoleon Bonaparte in the "coup d'tat" of the 18 Brumaire Photograph:( Zee News Network )

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All are thought to have fallen during the Battle of Vyazma on November 3, 1812 at the beginning of the French army's retreat from Moscow and before the horrific crossing of the Berezina River

Remains of French and Russian soldiers who died in a battle during the Napoleonic war will be laid to rest on Saturday. The soldiers squared off with each other during Napoleon's retreat from Moscow, that heralded the disastrous collapse of his Russian campaign. A ceremony near the city of Smolensk will see the re-burial of 126 people killed in one of the bloodiest battles of Napoleon's Russian campaign. This battle was fought in 1812.

Descendants of 19th-century Russian and French military leaders, as well as dozens of re-enactors, are expected to attend the burial in Vyazma, a town more than 200 kilometres (120 miles) west of Moscow.

Remains of 120 soldiers, three women and three teenagers were discovered in a mass grave by archaeologists from both countries in 2019.

The dig was led by Pierre Malinowski, the Kremlin-connected head of the Foundation for the Development of Russian-French Historic Initiatives.

The three women are believed to be so-called "vivandieres", who provided first aid and kept canteens in the French army, while the three adolescents are believed to have been drummers.

All are thought to have fallen during the Battle of Vyazma on November 3, 1812 at the beginning of the French army's retreat from Moscow and before the horrific crossing of the Berezina River.

The ceremony, complete with a gun salute, will mark a rare moment of unity between Russia and Europe at a time of heightened tensions over a litany of issues including the Kremlin's increasingly harsh crackdown on political opposition.

Napoleon's dreams of conquering the world fell apart after he appeared to bite more than he could chew in the Russian campaign. The Emporer who had brought Europe to its knees played a huge gamble in an attempt to win Russia, only to be defeated by the vast country and its unforgiving winter.

(With AFP inputs)

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