Napoleon Series Archive 2015

Russian Military Historical Archive Guide

Guide to the Microfilms of the Russian Military Historical Archive: Napoleonic Wars, 1805-1815

From the Military Science Archive at the Russian State Military History Archive.

The Napoleonic Wars are one of the most famous and most studied episodes in modern European history, yet Russia's role has drawn little attention or serious study in the West. Now -- with the recent opening of the Russian Military Historical Archive -- scholars may now fully explore Russia's part in these crucial events.

This collection from the Military History section (Voenno-Uchenyy Arkhiv/VUA) contains the rich core of the Archive's holdings on the Napoleonic era. It enables scholars to research this subject without the need for long stays in Moscow, with all the uncertainties that are an inevitable aspect of working in the under-funded and periodically closed Russian archives.

The VUA collection contains a huge mass of documents, mostly military but also political and diplomatic. It includes the official and private correspondence of the Emperor Alexander, of the Minister of War, and of the key generals. This correspondence features the official battle and campaign reports of units of varying size, from corps to regiments, but it also offers more ephemeral correspondence between Russian commanders, allowing scholars to trace how operations developed through Russian eyes and without the benefit of hindsight.

This collection also provides intelligence reports from before and after the 1812 campaign. It has a number of key position papers on logistics and requisitioning, on fortification of Russia's borders, on the topography of various regions in which the army fought, and on Russian grand strategy and campaign plans at various moments in the struggle against Napoleonic France.

Included in the archive is also a mass of day-to-day correspondence on the crucial questions of how the army was recruited, trained, fed and supplied before and during campaigns, which sometimes took regiments thousands of miles from their bases. There are documents on the raising of the militia and on partisan activity in 1812, as well as on the creation, training and movement of the Reserve Army, which moved through Poland and eastern Germany in 1813 and played a vital role when it arrived on the decisive battlefield of Leipzig in 1813. Until now, the ways in which Russian troops in Central and Western Europe were supplied and financed in 1813-14 were unknown to historians, who will now be able to answer this question authoritatively using the great mass of documents on this issue in this collection.

Within this archive there are a number of individual smaller collections, including those made by General Mikhailovsky-Danilevsky for his histories and by the General Staff itself for the anniversary celebrations and publications in 1912. These collections often include unpublished memoirs and notes of participants in the wars, which are of great value. They contribute to a collection of immense richness, undoubtedly the world's largest and -- until now -- barely touched source of new materials on the Napoleonic era.

Scope: 92 reels