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Volume 30, No.1 - Spring 1984
Editor of this issue: Antanas Klimas
From; http://www.lituanus.org/1984_1/84_1_01.htm
The Russian Campaign

Alexander's disastrous 1806 German Campaign against Napoleon had led
to the establishment of the Duchy of Warsaw on his border and he
greatly feared further French incursion. Hoping to avert another
Kosciuszko insurrection, Alexander actively encouraged liberal
projects of Lithuanian Princes Adam Czartoryski and Michael Cleophas
Oginski concerning the return of freedom and self-administration to
Lithuania. Though his words offered hope of improvement, he made no
definite commitments. The Russian military levies imposed as a result
of Alexander's campaigns have caused a great shortage of manpower,
horses, supplies, and cash in Lithuania as in other parts of his
empire. The Russian army traditionally lived off the land and had
continually marched criss-cross Lithuania on the way to foreign
battlefields spreading panic and epidemics. Thousands of Lithuanians
were forced into Russian military service, while others volunteered
believing in Alexander's promise of self-administration. Notable
Lithuanian military units in the Russian army included the Lithuanian
Uhlans, The Vilna Mousquetaries, the Samogitia Grenadier Regiment, and
the Lithuanian Imperial Guard Infantry Regiment. Lithuanian manpower
was badly depleted by such military service as well as the flight of
freedom fighters joining Napoleon's forces. Thousands of patriotic
Lithuanians died in the ranks of both Alexander's and Napoleon's
armies believing that they were fighting in the best interest of their
home land.4

While Alexander relaxed in Vilnius, Napoleon gradually moved his Grand
Army of 600,000 men across Europe in preparation for the invasion of
Russia. Though generally referred to as a French army it was composed
of units from twenty different nations. On the eve of the invasion the
Grand Army advanced on four major fronts from the shores of the Baltic
Sea to the banks of the Vistula River. Prince Karl Phillip
Schwarzenberg marched from Galicia in southeastern Poland with 30,000
Austrians. Duke Andoche Junot of Westphalia proceeded from Warsaw with
79,000 Westphalians, Saxons, and Poles. Viceroy Eugene de Beauharnais
of Italy approached from Konigsberg with 79,500 Bavarians, Italians,
and French. The Center of the Grand Army consisting of 200,000 men
under Napoleon's personal command gathered near the village of
Žagariškės about one league above Kaunas.5

Napoleon's strategy was to form his attack forces into three lines.
The main force under his own command, containing the greatest number
of native-born French, was to march directly to Vilnius, the capital
of Lithuania. His flanks and rear were to be covered by two auxiliary
armies and two semi-autonomous corps predominately made up of allied
soldiers. The first auxiliary army under the command of his stepson,
Eugene de Beauharnais, marched parallel to the right of Napoleon and
the second army commanded by his brother King Jerome marched still
farther to the east towards Grodno. The extreme flanks of the Grand
Army were to be guarded by the two semi-autonomous formations. General
MacDonald commanded the so called Prussian X Corps marching to
Napoleon's left along the Baltic Sea, while General Schwarzenberg with
his Austrian Corps proceeded into the western Ukraine. Napoleon also
established a second line of defense in his captured areas to act as
replacements and as a communication channel. A third line consisting
of forces left in various garrisons extended from Gdansk across the

On June 23,1812, Napoleon ordered his forces across the Nemunas River
into Lithuania to start the Russian Campaign. The army quickly moved
towards Kaunas, with the intention of liberating Lithuania and forcing
Alexander to sue for peace. At the outset of the campaign, Napoleon
had planned to establish himself in Lithuania going no farther than
Smolensk for the purpose of consolidating his rule in the former
Polish-Lithuanian palatinates before attempting to conquer Russia

Thus the Russian Campaign began without any formal declaration of war.
Napoleon entered Vilnius unopposed on June 27, 1812, and was warmly
greeted by the Lithuanians as a liberating hero. Farther to the east,
King Jerome Napoleon of Westphalia entered Grodno on June 30, 1812,
and General Louis Henri Davout, Prince of Eckmuhl, captured Minsk on
July 11, 1812, with only light resistance.

The Grand Army did not engage in any major battle, however, the
extreme heat, drought, and rough terrain of Lithuania took a terrible
toll. Marshal Joachin Murat, King of Naples, who commanded Napoleon's
Cavalry, estimated that over 15,000 horses died and 50,000 troops
deserted during the short forced march from Kaunas to Vilnius.7

On June 29, 1812, a violent thunderstorm struck Lithuania and
continued for the next five days producing continuous rain. The
results were most disastrous to the French forces. Movement of troops
was impeded or absolutely checked and the vast troop and supply trains
on the Vilnius-Kaunas Road became disorganized. The existing roads
became little better than quagmires causing the horses to break down
under the additional strain. The delay and frequent loss of these
supply trains caused both troops and horses to suffer. Napoleon's
forces traditionally were well supplied by his transportation corps,
but they proved inadequate during the invasion.

As the French army pushed deeper into Russia, the natural consequences
were of shortage of food supplies resulting in a breakdown of
discipline and marauding in quest of food. The Lithuanians, whom the
French forces were supposed to be liberating from Russian occupation,
were maltreated and plundered everywhere by their deliverers. The
water available in Lithuania was scanty in quantity and often
contaminated. The combination of food and water problems caused a
frightful amount of diarrhea, dysentery, and typhus for which little
could be done. The sick were left behind in temporary hospital camps
and thousands died due to filth, starvation, and general destitution.
It is estimated that only one in ten survived when stricken with such
sickness. The necessity of foraging for food and water caused large
detachments of Napoleon's forces to straggle behind the main body and
discipline deteriorated with each mile. 8

Czar Alexander learned of the French invasion during the evening of
June 24,1812, while hosting a ball at Russian General Bennigsen's
Zakret estate a few miles from Vilnius and immediately fled.

Formation of the Lithuanian Provisional Government

Napoleon's entry into Vilnius was greeted with great pomp and
ceremony. An honor guard was formed in imitation of the Poznan Honor
Guard formed by the Poles in 1806 with the creation of the Duchy of
Warsaw. The Poznan Honor Guard was recruited into Napoleon's personal
body guard and subsequently won great fame as the 1st Polish Lancers
of the Imperial Guard. The citizens of Vilnius, not to be outdone by
their Polish counterparts, went to great trouble and expense to
organize and uniform an elite guard whose members consisted of young
men from the most noble families of Lithuania. The commander of the
Vilnius Honor Guard was Prince Gabriel Oginski and its members
included such noble Lithuanian families as Broel-Plater, Romer,
Chlewinski, Lenkiewicz, Czarnowski, Nosarzewski, Jelenski, Pomarnacki,
Strawinski, Wollowicz, Puzyna, Laskowicz, Zabiello. Many of the guard
members had formerly been students at the University of Vilnius and
eagerly abandoned their studies to help liberate their country. This
elite guard subsequently accompanied Napoleon to and from Moscow
providing escort and acting as interpreters.9

After securing his military position to the north and east of Vilnius,
Napoleon immediately moved to establish a provisional government for
Lithuania from among the senior nobles. On July 1, 1812, Napoleon
decreed the establishment of the Provisional Government for the Grand
Duchy of Lithuania. The new government was formed with four
departments consisting of Vilnius, Grodno, Minsk, and Bialystok, which
had all been part of the old Grand Duchy of Lithuania within the
Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Though officially responsible for
governing thirty-three palatinates, in reality it only exercised
control over seventeen liberated by the French army. President of the
Provisional Government was Count Stanislas Soltan and its members were
Prince Alexander Sapieha, Joseph Sierakows-ki, Count Francis Jelski,
Count Alexander Potocki, Charles Prozor, General Joseph Ignace
Kossakowski, and Professor John Sniadecki of the University of
Vilnius. Later with the untimely death of Prince Sapieha, Count Ignace
Tyzenhauz was appointed to the Council as his replacement.10

In principle the Provisional Government was autonomous, however,
Napoleon also imposed his own shadow military government. Vilnius
became the French Imperial Headquarters for all diplomacy and in
effect a provisional capital of France. Dutch General Dirk Van
Hogendorp was appointed the Lithuanian military-governor and General
Maret Duc de Bassano Bigon the civilian commissioner representing
Napoleon. The military government actually controlled the routine
operations of the nation and it was thereafter extended into each
department and palatinate. The French military governors appointed for
the Departments were General Jomini in Vilnius, General Brun in
Grodno, General Ferriere in Bialystok, and General Broni-lowski in
Minsk. In addition, the French army established local military
commanders and quarter-masters commanding their own units in each
department and palatinate. Only the sub-prefects in the palatinates
were native Lithuanians. This dual government system hamstrung the
Lithuanian administration and proved slow, unwieldy, and unable to
satisfy the later demands of the military.11 The Grand Army was thus
depleted of manpower by the establishment of his own occupation units
which were greatly needed during the invasion of Russia proper.

The following Department Commissioners and Subpre-fects of the
Provisional Government of Lithuania were appointed by Napoleon on July
1, 1812, for Vilnius, Grodno, and Minsk, and on July 5, 1812, for

Lithuanian Departmental Commissioners

Department of Vilnius
Colonel Tyzenhauz
Count Adam Chreptowicz
Count Ferdinand Plater

Department of Grodno
Colonel Lachnicki
Niemcewicz of Brzesc

Department of Minsk
Marshal Joseph Wolodkowicz
Judge Xavier Obuchowicz, Appeal Court
Judge Ginter, Appeal Court

Department of Bialystok
Victor Gradzki
Michael Daszkiewicz
Michale Dziekonski

Lithuanian Subprefects by towns

Vilnius — Prince Gedroyc

Trakai — Joseph Petrykowski

Ošmena — Zaba

Ukmergė — Przezdziecki

Zawiley — Chamberlan Wawrzecki

Kaunas — Zabiello

Upytė — Brunof

Raseiniai — Micewicz

Šauliai — Witkiewicz

Telšiai — Pilsudskį

Beside the formation of the Provisional Government for the Grand Duchy
of Lithuania, Napoleon took personal interest in the administration of
the city of Vilnius. On July 1, 1812, Napoleon appointed the following
officers for the city of Vilnius.13

Mayor of Vilnius — Michael Romer

Mayor Staff — Professor Malewski of the University of Vilnius

— Danilowicz — Prosecutor

— Woynicz — Surgeon

— Sledzinski — Controller

Vilnius City Council — Antoine Chrapowicki — Chairman

— Francois Czyr — Assessor

— Malczewski — Notary

— Froland — Member

— Szynkiewicz — Prosecutor

— Neiman — Doctor

— Mauzer — Purchaser of metals

— Statkowski and Borkowski — Former Mayors

Formation of the Lithuanian military units

On July 1, 1812, Napoleon decreed the creation of a National Guard for
Vilnius to be composed of two battalions of infantry consisting of six
companies each. The staff of the Vilnius National Guard was to consist
of twenty-two officers and soldiers and each Guard Company to be
composed of 119 officers and soldiers totaling 1450 men. Colonel
Kosielski of the old Lithuanian Artillery Corps was named Commander of
the unit and his Battalion Chiefs, former Captain of Infantry
Zakrzewski and former Captain of Artillery Franceson. Thereafter, the
provisional government extended the national guard system into all the
principle cities and towns in each department. This force was
conscripted at a rate of one soldier per each two hundred

The responsibility entrusted to the National Guard was to protect
private and public property in the cities and districts assigned. The
conscription of soldiers was the obligation of the property owners and
the only exception was for those engaged in important commerce and
trade. Members of the unit were to be between eighteen and fifty years
old and in good health. Notable local militia units were established
by Count Mirbach at TelÅ¡iai and Count VitkeviÄ?ius at Å iauliai which
functioned efficiently in protecting the inhabitants from both Russian
and French marauders.15

In order to secure his rear, Napoleon also decreed on July 1, 1812,
the formation of one Gendarmerie (Police) Regiment in each department
from among the nobles themselves. Each department and district was to
have one

police company composed of 107 volunteer officers and soldiers. The
responsibility of the Gendarmerie was to promote public order and to
assist the French forces in the suppression of deserters and
marauders. These units were to be either foot or mounted depending on
the territory covered. The governments of Vilnius and Minsk were
assigned two Chiefs of Squadrons and Grodno and Bialystok one each.
The uniforms worn by the Gendarmerie units were to be the same as worn
by the Polish Gendarmerie.16

Antoine Chrapowicki was appointed Colonel of the Vilnius Gendarmerie
Regiment, Prince Michael Radzwill commander of the Grodno Gendarmerie
Regiment, Leon Osztorp commander of the Minsk Gendarmerie Regiment,
and Francois Oretti commander of the Bialystok Gendarmerie Regiment.
On July 9, 1812, Prince Sapieha recommended Mr. Michalowski to be the
major of the 2nd Vilnius Gendarmerie Regiment due to his past sixteen
years military service. The commanders of the larger units and the
Gendarmerie a Cheval (Mounted) were to be gentlemen of property and to
reside in the territory where assigned.17

The service of the Gendarmerie was prescribed by Napoleon himself upon
the Lithuanian nobles, but they felt it beneath their dignity to
perform police functions and did not rush to join these units.
Napoleon further decreed that each county take immediate steps to form
a skeleton company of fifty men while awaiting the mustering of their
full complement. By the middle of November, 1812, the Vilnius
Department composed of the counties of Vilnius, Trakai, AÅ¡mena,
Ukmergė, Zawiley, Braslaw, Kaunas, Raseiniai, Šiauliai, and Telšiai,
reported their Gendarmerie Regiment as mustering six hundred and eight
officers and men. The other three departments did not progress as
quickly and remained under strength.18

Lithuanian Infantry and Cavalry Regiments

The principle emphasis of Napoleon's Lithuanian formed units was
placed in infantry. It was decreed that five infantry regiments and
four cavalry regiments be raised with their regimental numbers to be a
continuation of the numbers utilized by the units of the Duchy of
Warsaw. As a result the Lithuanian Infantry bore regimental numbers 18
through 22 and the Lithuanian Cavalry bore numbers 17 through 20. In
order to obtain the necessary troops, the Provisional Government
established a recruiting system similar to that utilized by the
Russians in Lithuania. Each nobleman who owned property was required
to deliver a certain number of men according to the number of serfs on
his property. The manpower quota thus imposed called for 10,000 men
for infantry and 4,000 men for cavalry. The infantry levy imposed on
the Department of Vilnius and Minsk called for 3,000 men each, the
Department of Grodno 2500 men, and the Department of Bialystok 1500
men. The recruits were to be between 18 and 34 years old and in good
health. The levy for the Department of Vilnius was based on one
recruit for each 119 male inhabitants. The cavalry formation was to be
on a system similar to that of the infantry recruitment, but it
followed the ancient custom of conscription in which each trooper be
furnished complete with mount. The manpower requirement thus imposed
was 1327 troopers from the Department of Vilnius, 1307 troopers from
the Department of Minsk, 996 troopers from the Department of Grodno,
and 370 troopers from the Department of Biolystok.19

On July 13, 1812, Napoleon appointed the following individuals as
Colonels in their respective infantry and cavalry regiments: 18th
Infantry — Alexander Chodkiewicz, 19th Infantry — Constantine
Tyzenhauz, 20th Infantry — Adam Biszing, 21st Infantry — Charles
Pierzchala Przezd-ziecki, 22nd Infantry — Stanislas Czapski, 17th
Cavalry — Michael Tyszkiewicz, 18th Cavalry — Joseph Wawrzecki,
Cavalry — Constantine Rajecki, and the 20th Cavalry — Xavier

The newly formed Lithuanian units were to be patterned on the French
style. The basic infantry unit of the French army was the regiment
which was commanded by a colonel and assisted by a regimental staff
which provided the necessary logistics. The infantry regiment
consisted of three battalions, each commanded by a lieutenant-colonel,
with each battalion having six line companies. The battalion line
companies were each commanded by a captain and consisted of one
Grenadier company, one Voltigeur company, and four Fusilier companies.
The Grenadier company was the elite company chosen for their courage,
resoluteness, strength, and experience. They were to form the head of
the column on the march and stood at the flank or rear of the line as
a reserve force in battle. The Voltigeurs functioned as the unit
skirmishers and preceeded the regiment in open order in combat
providing a harassing fire. The Fusiliers were the basic foot soldier
of the Napoleonic period.21

Following the tradition of the old Polish-Lithuanian cavalry regiments
the newly formed Napoleonic Lithuanian cavalry regiments were armed
with a lance as one of their basic weapons. As a result of the use of
this weapon the Lithuanian cavalry regiments were designated as
Lancers. The Napoleonic lancer regiment consisted of four squadrons of
men with each squadron composed of two companies. One of the squadrons
was designated the elite squadron and carried the regimental standard
or guidon flag. The lancer regiment was designed to be a mobile force
employed to protect the flanks and rear of the main line in battle and
to threaten the flanks and rear of the enemy lines. It was sent
forward similar to the infantry Voltiguers to discover the size,
position, deployment and movement of the enemy. The lance gave the
regiment and advantage in approaching and advancing because of its
great psychological effect on infantry units.22

On August 31, 1812, General Van Hogendorp, Military-Governor of
Lithuania, appointed Colonel Antoine Gielgud to replace Charles
Przezdzieki as the commander of the 21st Lithuanian Infantry Regiment.
Colonel Przezdzieki in turn was appointed commander of the 18th
Lithuanian Cavalry Regiment replacing Colonel Joseph Wawrzecki.
General Prince Romuald Giedroyc was appointed overall commander of
forming the Lithuanian units, Colonel Joseph Wawrzecki
Inspector-General of Cavalry, and Colonel Count Joseph Niesiolowski
Inspector-General of Infantry. The Lithuanian units though under the
command of Lithuanian officers were formed as a part of the French
military and subject to its orders. Thus the Lithuanian units were
formed at the expense of Lithuania, but to be utilized by Napoleon at
his discretion.23

The military requirements imposed on Lithuania by Napoleon were very
difficult to comply with due to the extreme shortage of men, supplies,
and horses which were badly depleted by the previous Russian levies.
Under these burdens. Prince Sapieha worked as the Military
Commissioner-in-Charge of unit formation. Recruitment was to commence
on August 5,1812, and be completed on August 30 for infantry regiments
and commencing on August 15 for cavalry and completed by September 25.
Each regiment was assigned to a specific territorial headquarters and
depots for recruitment and training. The following unit depots were
utilized by Lithuanian units.

Regiment Deport City
18th Infantry Regiment Vilnius
19th Infantry Regiment Raseiniai
20th Infantry Regiment Slonim
21th Infantry Regiment Bialystok
17th Cavalry Regiment Minsk
18th Cavalry Regiment Kupiškis
18th Cavalry Regiment Panevėžys
18th Cavalry Regiment Nowogrodek
18th Cavalry Regiment Pinsk
18th Mounted Rifles Vilnius

With the unexpected death of Commissioner Sapieha, former Lithuanian
General Etienne Grabowski was appointed to supervise the formation of
the Lithuanian forces. Attempts to establish a political union between
Poland and Lithuania failed due to what the Lithuanians considered to
be Polish proposals subjecting them to a less than equal partnership.
Napoleon finally authorized advancement of 500 million francs for the
purchase of necessary military armament for the Lithuanian forces. In
addition, Lithuanians were authorized to establish cadets for training
within the Polish Army. Supplies were subsequently obtained from the
French army depots at Koenigsberg and Danzig with the hopes that the
Lithuanian units would be able to enter the line by mid-November,

The Provisional Government of Lithuania hoping to incur the favor of
Napoleon also decreed the formation of additional auxilliary military
units. In August, 1812, the government sought to create six battalions
of Chasseurs a Pied (Foot Rifleman) with each battalion being composed
of six companies of 130 men. The following officers were designated
commanders of their respective battalions; 1st Battalion — Colonel
Joseph Kossakowski, 2nd Battalion — Major Ignacy Rokicki, 3rd
Battalion — Major Kazimierz Plater, 4th Battalion —
Andrzej Kurc-zewski, 5th Battalion — Major Franciszek Obuchowicz, and
the 6th Battalion — Major Pawel Loskowski. The battalions were to be
formed from the gamekeepers and forest rangers within the particular
property or area from which recruited and assigned. The mission of the
Chasseurs a Pied was to act as scouts for the region, to abridge
Cossack raids, apprehend vagabonds and deserters, and maintain general
order. The units were to be composed of volunteers, but if the
recruitment was slow the government authorized the enrollment of
commoners with the foresters to be armed and dressed at the expense of
the local landowners. These battalions were expected to be formed by
September, 1812, with the rest of the regular units.25

In November, 1812, the Privisional Government further resolved to
create two regiments of Light Infantry composed of three battalions
each in the French pattern, but their formation was only partially
successful. One formed company was consolidated into Kossakowski's
Foot Riflemen Regiment. The principle source of recruitment for the
Foot Riflemen Regiments were from the great Radziwill estates in the
Department of Minsk. The Plater 3rd Foot Riflemen Regiment was
recruited from the large estates in the Department of Vilnius. All
soldiers enlisting in the Foot Riflemen Regiments agreed to serve for
the duration of the war. Unfortunately due to the lack of manpower and
equipment the 4th Battalion was only partially formed as were the
other two remaining battalions.

Individual nobleman were also authorized to form military units for
service to Napoleon at their own expense. On September 14,1812, with
the capture of Moscow by the French forces, Count Ignace Moniuszko was
authorized to raise one Regiment of Chasseurs a Cheval (Mounted
Riflemen) which was designated the 21st Lithuanian Cavalry Regiment.
Likewise, Count Rudolph Tyzenhauz formed a Battery of Artillery a
Cheval (Horse Artillery) at his own expense. These two privately
funded units were only partially formed by the time of Napoleon's
disastrous retreat.26

Beside the Provisional Government levied and nobleman financed
Lithuanian units several other regiments were formed through
individual Lithuanian recruitment. With the demonstrated willingness
of the Lithuanian youth to serve in the Vilnius Honor Guard, Napoleon
on July 5,1812, decreed the creation of the 3rd Regiment de
Chevaux-Leger Lanciers de la Garde (3rd Lithuanian Lancer Regiment of
the Imperial Guard). This regiment was assigned as part of Napoleon's
personal guard in the same manner as was the 1st Regiment Polish
lancers of the Guard created in 1806. This new elite regiment was to
be composed of five squadrons formed with two companies each recruited
from among volunteer noblemen of the first families of
Lithuania-Poland between 18 and 40 years old. These volunteers were
expected to provide at their own expense a horse, uniform,
accoutrements, and harness set, when reporting for duty, but would
thereafter be in the service of France. Major Jan Konopka, a
Lithuanian serving as a Squadron Commander with the 1st Polish Lancers
of the Imperial Guard was appointed as General of the new regiment.
His staff was to be composed of twenty-two officers and eighteen
troopers, and each regiment squadron formed of four officers and one
hundred and twenty troopers. A large number of troopers in this unit
were recruited from the student body of the University of Vilnius.
This regiment was said to have been the best equipped and mounted
regiment formed and its uniforms were the richest and most elegant in
the army.27

Napoleon also authorized the recruitment of a Lithuanian Tartar
Regiment. Its members were the descendants of the Tartar families
resettled in Lithuania during the middle ages by Grand Duke
Vytautas-the-Great. They continued to exercise their Moslem religion
and privileges as noblemen and wished to show their devotion to their
adopted land by forming their own cavalry regiment in its defense. On
August 24, 1812, Napoleon accepted their offer and authorized Mustafa
Musa Achmatowicz to organize the unit. The actual Lithuanian Tartar
Regiment thus recruited formed only a company size unit and was
attached to the 3rd Lithuanian Lancer Regiment of the Guard to act as

In addition to the Lithuanian name-bearing units, numerous Lithuanians
also joined existing French and Polish regiments. Notable units having
large contingents of Lithuanians were the 1st Polish Lancer Regiment
of the Imperial Guard, the Vistula Lancer Regiment, and the Vistula
Legion. Napoleon further authorized the 129th French Line Regiment of
Infantry and the Illyrien Infantry Regiment to each recruit 500
Lithuanians to replace their losses sustained during the Russian

Unfortunately Napoleon's preoccupation with Lithuania was not in
establishing liberty and equality. He took great efforts to avoid the
re-establishment of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and the
emancipation of the serfs. It is obvious that his major purpose for
the formation of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania was to organize
auxiliary troops at Lithuania's expense for his further military
operations and to secure his rear against the Russians. His failure to
proclaim the emancipation of the serfs precluded a mass embracing of
his cause. Though many noblemen gave freely of their wealth, many
began to see in Napoleon only another foreign sovereign exploiting his
military occupation.

The political leaders in both Lithuania and Poland sought to
re-establish the old Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth which had existed
prior to the 1795 partition. Unfortunately, this project failed with
the rise of the traditional argument over equality between the two
nations. Poland, though desiring to regain power over the territory of
the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, was not willing to make concessions to
the Lithuanians, and Lithuania was riot willing to bend to Poland
without them. In the end it was Napoleon himself who vetoed the
reunion on political grounds. He feared the repercussions that would
occur among his Austrian and Prussian allies as well as the damage
that would be caused with Polish-Lithuanian infighting over the
selection of their new monarch.

Napoleon had been well received in Vilnius by the Lithuanian
delegations from all strata, but this feeling immediately worsened due
to the poor treatment of the populace by the French army. Some 50,000
deserters marauded the countryside. They seized the scant food
supplies and gave no consideration to the needs of the inhabitants.
The regular French troops behaved no better than the Russians,
carousing, robbing, flogging, and seizing living quarters. Many
Lithuanian peasants believing the French slogan of "Liberty, Equality,
and Fraternity" fled their estates and frequently joined the
marauders. Many noblemen and serfs alike resisted recruit levies
imposed on them by the Provisional Government due to the treatment
afforded to them by the occupying French forces.30

Still Lithuanian volunteers answered Napoleon's call for troops. On
August 1, 1812, Colonel Chodkiewicz reported that his 18th Lithuanian
Infantry Regiment being formed at Vilnius already had 600 men. These
soldiers were described as virtuous citizens of high quality who were
joining the colors at a rate of 15 men per day. Colonel Tyzenhaus at
Raseiniai reported on August 16, 1812, that his 19th Lithuanian
Infantry Regiment had been successfully formed and were already
bearing arms. Unfortunately recruitment in the ranks of the other
regiments did not progress as rapidly. Colonel Czapski reported as
late as October, 1812, that his 22nd Lithuanian Infantry Regiment
lacked 600 men to reach full strength and his 2nd Battalion was not
armed. But in spite of all the difficulties involved in forming these
Lithuanian units, over 20,000 Lithuanians joined Napoleon during the
short period between July and December, 1812.31

The March to Moscow

After eighteen days in Vilnius, Napoleon rejoined his Grand Army
vainly trying to engage the retreating Russian Army in combat. The
French moved on three fronts pushing north along the Baltic Sea and
northwest towards Moscow. The Prussian X Corps under the Command of
General Alexander MacDonald advanced slowly into northern Lithuania
and Latvia to attack Riga and possibly St. Petersburg. MacDonald's
Corps consisted of approximately 32,000 men formed into two distinct
bodies. General Grandjean commanded the Polish-German Division and
General Grawert the Prussian Division. Grandjean's advanced-guard
consisted of four Polish Battalions commanded by Lithuanian Prince
Radzwill. The Prussian X Corps met little resistance and marched
steadily towards Riga. The Austrian army under the command of Prince
Schwarzen-berg occupied southern Lithuania and the Ukraine. The
Austrian units showed little inclination to fight and took little part
in combat during the campaign. The Austrians and Prussians would
eventually desert Napoleon and join the Russians against him. Many
ethnic Lithuanians from Eastern Prussia served with General Grawert's
forces including the Prussian 3rd Lithuanian Dragoon Regiment that
would later be highly decorated for service against Napoleon during
the 1813 Paris Campaign.

The heart of the French Grand Army under the personal command of
Napoleon pushed northeast towards Smolensk and Moscow. Joining
Napoleon's personal staff were Lithuanian noblemen, Count Joseph
Antoine Kossakowski, Count Charles Morawski, and Prince Eustache
Sanguszko, acting as advisors and interpreters. Lithuanian General
Count Ludwik Pac who had served Napoleon for many years joined the
Imperial Staff as a military advisor for logistics and supplies.
Numerous Lithuanian officers also served with General Prince
Poniatowski's 5th Corps including General Weyssenhoff, Chief of Staff
to General Zajonczek, 16th Division, Commander General Tyzkiewicz,
19th Light Cavalry Brigade, Commander General Grabowski, 18th

Division Brigade, and General Niemojewski, Commander 18th Light
Cavalry Division. These officers along with hundreds of junior
officers would serve bravely in heavy fighting in the Battles of
Smolensk and Borodino. In addition Napoleon throughout the campaign
would be attended by his trusted aide-de-camp Lithuanian Captain Count
Dunin Wonsowicz of the 1st Polish Lancers. Later Wonsowicz would be
one of the only three officers to accompany Napoleon when he abandoned
the Grand Army and fled to Paris.32

The three retreating Russian armies finally unified for battle in the
vicinity of Smolensk under the command of Field Marshal Michail
Kutuzov. The Russian forces were easily defeated and as a result
continued their retreat towards Moscow. Lithuanian General Thaddeus
Tyszkiewicz, Commanding the 19th Polish Cavalry Brigade, was
personally decorated by Napoleon with the Legion of Honor decoration
on the battlefield of Smolensk for outstanding bravery in combat.

Kutuzov upon reaching the gates of Moscow, was forced by political
pressure to again risk his forces in combat with the French. He
selected a field in the vicinity of a small village named Borodino
which would lend its name to the bloodiest battle of the Russian
Campaign. The Battle of Borodino was fought on September 5-7, 1812,
resulting in the loss of over 30,000 Frenchmen and 43,000 Russians.
Both sides claimed victory, but the Russian army again was forced to
retreat and to abandon Moscow.33

Napoleon continued to pursue the Russians and entered the deserted
city of Moscow seven days later with little satisfaction. The imperial
capital was largely deserted and burned as the Russian populace
retreated and gave little protection to the French forces. The
prolonged occupation of Moscow was the beginning of the end for the
Napoleonic Empire.
for the rest go to; http://www.lituanus.org/1984_1/84_1_01.htm