View Full Version : Why didn't Napoleon attack Petersberg instead of Moscow in 1812?
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03-03-2010, 03:57 PM
Word on the street is that Napoleon attacked the interior of Russia, aiming for Moscow and taking the city only to retreat in disaster.
Since Petersberg was the political capital and had the Tzar, why didn't Napoleon avoid the trecherous interior where Moscow is, and instead stick to the coast, supplied by ship, and crawl up to Petersberg?
03-03-2010, 04:05 PM
Moscow was Russia's biggest city and the source of most of its manufacturing capacity, and Napoleon hoped that taking Moscow would force the Tsar to come to terms.
03-03-2010, 04:57 PM
Battle of Trafalgar (21 October 1805).
03-03-2010, 05:30 PM
There were a few reasons for this.
For starters Napoleon never intended to conquer Russia. He knew it was far to big. His invasion was a punishment.
Napoleon had put forth the Continental Blockade. Of course after (and even before) his defeat at Trafalgar it was a paper blockade.
Russia was happy to accomodate Napoleon when it suited them.
Napoleon hoped by taking Moscow which was the biggest industrial city in Russia (which at the time wasn't saying much as Russia wasn't too industrialized anyway), he could force the Czar back into honoring the Continental umbrella.
This meant cutting Great Britian off and accepting that he had re-established Poland.
Had he tried for St Petersburg it would've brought the wrath of Russia down on him rather than just attacking an important city. Or so he thought.
The second part was Sweden. Sweden HATED Russia and was going to be an important French ally. The Swedes were sucking up to Napoleon even naming one of Napoleon's marshall's as their king - Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte.
But Bernadotte wasn't pro-French he was Pro-himself.
Napoleon had extensive talks and had almost got Sweden in the Napoleonic wars on his side. He had talked about letting Sweden take St Petersberg back or helping them do it.
But Sweden wasn't interested in doing this, as they realized even if they took St Petersberg, Sweden simply wasn't big enough to keep it. Sweden also had designs on parts of the European mainland which was now Germany and Poland.
They also hated Denmark (which owned Norway) and knew that the Danes, who were staunchly pro-French would pressure Napoleon into letting them have some of the Swedish mainland, which they had ruled not so long ago. Or the Swedes realized if they were occupied in St Petersberg with Napoleon, Denmark would have an open shot if it switched sides to Great Britian
Unless Napoleon could get Sweden onside, he couldn't risk taking St Petersberg. He couldn't do that. And in reality as I said, he didn't want to conquer Russia.
States like Prussia and Austria and many Italian and other German states, were constantly switching sides going over to help Napoleon then hinder him.
No one except Great Britian and the Netherlands (when not conquered) was truly against Napoleon the whole time. Other nations were simply satisfied to let other nations fight it out, keep out of it, if possible and make money if they could
03-04-2010, 02:15 AM
Petersburg, not berg. The Peter's city, not Peter's mountain.
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