September 7 - 1812 - The Battle of Borodino
Napoleon Bonaparte's invasion of Russia appeared to be going swimmingly for the Grande Armee through the summer months. The Russian Army kept retreating back towards Moscow, even if there were not many significant battles. If Napoleon had reached Moscow, he would have been able to make Russia yet another Napoleonic client state, just as he had done throughout Western Europe. After a skirmish at Smolensk, Russian Tsar Alexander I replaced General Barclay de Tolly with Mikhail Kutuzov, an older and more revered commander. Kutuzov decided to fortify at Borodino, west of Moscow. There, he had his men build a series of fortifications known as Bagration fleches, after the Russian general who created them and their arrow-like shape. They would make the Battle of Borodino the bloodiest battle of the Napoleonic Wars. The height of the battle took place at the Revsky redoubt in the center, seeing two armies destroy each other at the defensive fortification. The French would win the battle, but lose the war, as the Russian army managed to escape wounded but intact. Napoleon would take Moscow a week later, but it had been evacuated and was left smoldering, which forced the French to retreat through the Russian winter.