Napolean & Moscow

Why did Napoleon go after Moscow?
St. Petersburg was the capital at the time. It seems to make more sense to capture a nation’s capital first.

I know Moscow has always been an industrial center but even Hitler tried to take both.

I meant Napoleon, oh well what are you gonna do right?

Poor judgement, mostly. See .

Bob the Random Expert
“If we don’t have the answer, we’ll make one up.”

But why Moscow? Why not the nation’s capital? It’s like the Confederates skipping Washington to invade NYC because it is the industrial center.

I don’t know why he picked Moscow, but I stand by my earlier statement. None of the references I’ve looked at say anything about his motivation (except, of course, ambition!), and not much on his strategy. A few places mention the threat that Russia posed if he didn’t attack, but they seem to agree that it was a bad move. None I’ve seen talk about the way he did so. More later, if I find anything out.

Bob the Random Expert
“If we don’t have the answer, we’ll make one up.”

Just a WAG:

St. Petersburg could be supplied by sea. Russia’s ally Britain ruled supreme over the Baltic (and every other body of water) at the time. Ever since Nelson destroyed the French and Spanish fleets 7 years earlier, Napoleon was forced to look inland (Austria, Prussia, Russia) for his conquests.

Remember, Boney was going after the Russian army. They kept retreating toward Moscow, possibly to sucker him away from St. Petersburg. He then had to go on to the city in order to try to stay there during the winter.

Thanks guys. Those arguments make sense but the also make me think Napoleon wasn’t as smart then as we make him out to be.

Moscow was the nexus of virtually every major road in Russia, and there weren’t a hell of a lot of those, either. The capture of Moscow was intended to provide a base of supply for Napoleon’s army, while effectively dismembering Russia’s component parts. Presumably, a spring jaunt up the St. Petersburg road would politically isolate the Czar and would allow armies approaching from the disparate sectors of Russia to be defeated in detail through the use of interior lines.

Bonaparte’s failure in Russia was the genesis of a phrase you hear bandied about often nowdays: “force to space.” Want to put out the fires in East Timor with five thousand UN troops? Think about that cold march back from Moscow first.