In the beginning of 19th century in the result of the wars of aggression Napoleon Bonapart occupied almost the entire Central and Southern Europe. On June 12 (24), 1812 the Napoleon army crossed the river Neman and invaded the territory of the Russian Empire. The Patriotic war began.
The main objective of the French armies was not to let join the armies of Barklai de Tolly and Bagration and to defeat them separately. Making a fighting retreat and maneuvering the Russian armies with great effort succeeded to unite near Smolensk but under the threat of being surrounded they were obliged to leave the disturbed and burning city.
On August 26 (September 7), 1812 began the famous battle near Borodino during which both sides suffered great losses. Later Napoleon estimated it as the most “terrible” of all the battles he had given and believed that “the Frenchmen demonstrated themselves as able to win and the Russians obtained the right to be invincible”. The main goal of Napoleon – the defeat of the Russian army – was not achieved but the Russians not having enough force to continue the battle left the field in the morning. After the council in the village of Fili near Moscow the army’s leaders decided to leave Moscow.
Already during the first stage of the war Alexander I, trying to fill in the troops’ shortage and taking into account the rise of patriotic spirits in the society, issued the order to create the peoples’ volunteer corps and begin the war of partisans. The partisan detachments were headed by the hussar officers as well as by ordinary men. The peak of partisan war fell on the October of 1812.
On October 7 (19) 1812 Napoleon retreated from Moscw along the road of Kaluga. The French army was demoralized with starvation, fires, suffered from cold. The Russian troops, not fighting battles with Napoleon, were destroying his army in parts.
On October 12 (24) during the battle near Maloyaroslavets the Frenchmen were stopped and had to take the road of Smolensk that they had previously ravaged, hoping to pass the winter in Smolensk. From that moment the strategic initiative passed over to the Russian army. During the battle near the river of Berezina on November 14-16 (26-28), 1812 the Napoleon army was practically smashed. The Frenchmen lost 30 thousand men. Only 9-10 thousand managed to cross the river.
On December 25, 1812 (January 6, 1813) the emperor Alexander I issued the Royal manifesto announcing the end of the Patriotic war.
On the same day there were issued two more manifestos: on construction in Moscow a church in the name of the Christ the Saviour in honor of the victory of the Russian army and in gratitude to God and another one on establishing of the silver medal for the troops having taken part in the battles.
Russia had paid a high price for the victory in this war. 12 provinces that became the theater of the military actions, were ravaged; ancient towns were burned and destroyed; the losses numbered over 300 thousand soldiers and officers, among the civil population they were even higher.
On December 25, 1837 (January 6, 1838) in honor of the 25th anniversary of the victory over Napoleon in St.-Petersburg in front Kazan cathedral were erected the monuments to M.I. Kutuzov and D. Barklai de Tolly.
Lit.: Высочайший манифест, о принесении Господу Богу благодарения за освобождение России от нашествия неприятельского, 25 декабря 1812 г. [Электронный ресурс] // Храм Христа Спасителя. Б. д. URL: http://www.xxc.ru/walls/w31.htm; Высочайший манифест о построении в Москве церкви во имя Спасителя Христа [Электронный ресурс] // Храм Христа Спасителя. Б. д. URL: http://www.xxc.ru/walls/w30.htm; Тарле Е. В. Наполеон. М., 1941; То же [Электронный ресурс]. URL: http://militera.lib.ru/bio/tarle1/13.html.
From the Presidential library materials: