In the French collective memory as well as in its subconscious, the Berezina conjures up pictures of disaster, immense and without precedent. It symbolises the irremediable collapse of an army in the Bloom of defeat and total destruction. Popular or romantic imagery has pictured this event in its darkest, most terrible and most frightening aspects. Like an abysmal grave for the Grande Armée, the Berezina marks the end of French domination of the European continent, a hegemony which had already been contested on the Iberian Peninsula by the English and their Spanish and Portuguese allies. Soldiers no longer obeyed their sergeants or officers, if there were any left. There were no longer any battalions, any regiments, or any divisions. It was no longer an army ; it was a body aith neither skeleton nor brain. It was moribund and it took ils time dying; the Berezina finished it off. "C'est la Berezina !" This expression is nowadays so well anchored in the French language that it brooks no contestation, no reflection. It alone combines the whole breakdown and collapse of a situation. As they say : "C'est la Bérezina !" First of all, in the eyes of the enemy, this battle was a diversionary movement and the crossing of a major linear obstacle : a river. Secondly the Berezina was a battle. It was fought on both sides of the river. Understrength corps and divisions of differing worth fought during this battle. Both Victor's and Oudinot's corps were still acceptable. The retreat could carry on without the Berezina turning into the fatal trap that Kutusov wanted it to be. The Berezina was a French victory.
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The crossing of the Berezina a victory during the defeat De François-Guy Hourtoulle Illustrations de André Jouineau Traduit par Alan McKay Contributions de Denis Gandilhon Histoire et collections Sans Collection
Title: THE CROSSING OF THE BEREZINA 1812 : A VICTORY DURING THE RETREAT Author Name: Hourtoulle, F. G. Categories: Napoleonic Wars, Publisher: Histoire & Collections ...