Greenhill Books: Napoleonic Library

1812: The March on Moscow

By Paul Britten Austin
Introduction by David Chandler

The March to Moscow cover


More than a third of a million men set out on that midsummer day of 1812. None can have imagined the terrors and hardships to come; they would be lured all the way to Moscow without having achieved the decisive battle Napoleon sought; and that only one hundred thousand of them would reach this city. One of the greatest disasters in military history was in the making.

In this enthralling day-by-day, sometimes hour-by-hour narrative, Paul Britten Austin skillfully blends the memoirs and diaries of more than a hundred eyewitnesses all of whom took part in the march to Moscow. The result is a uniquely authentic account, in which the reader sees and experiences the campaign through the eyes of participants at each stage of the advance. At least four-fifths of its contents have never been available in English before.

The fruit of more than twenty years of research, this superbly crafted work tells the inside story of Napoleon's march on Moscow in a compellingly readable form that rivals the most exciting works of modern fiction.


  • Accounts by more than 100 eyewitnesses
  • A moving word-film of the terrible advance to Moscow
  • Covers the epic battle of Borodino


"...Powerful and is a remarkable and unforgettable read." - Empire, Eagles and Lions

"...Fascinating insight...The reader is drawn along in the footsteps of the main French Army, day to day, as it makes its weary way towards Moscow...highly recommended as essential reading for anyone interested in Napoleonic history." - First Empire

"...The words 'unique', 'standard work', Jahrhunderten buch' and 'brilliant' are cliches often far too liberally - at least in this reviewer's opinion - applied by the literary claque (not to mention the publishers' blurb writers) to many a doubtless deserving, but all too rarely a genuinely outstanding, new publication. In the present instance, however, at least the first and last eulogisms are wholly deserved...a closely-knit and totally compelling account...the result is frankly stupendous...for conveying the sheer realism of human experience there can surely be no comparable literary technique to be found in use today...simply devastating effect. You almost smell the powder-smoke at Borodino, the stench of rotting human and horse corpses besides the line of march through that long, hot and dusty French advance, the hunger engendered by short rations - and many more human feelings and reactions. This is military life in the raw...both the author and Greenhill Books - that doyen of Napoleonic publishing - deserve sincere congratulation and praise. This is not really a history book in the normal sense of the term - it is an experience and one not to be missed." - British Army Review

"...Enthralling...The story is as dramatic as it is massive in scale...the narrative is superbly handled, swinging from the broad perspective of strategy to the experiences and feelings of the men trudging all those hundreds of miles." - Military Modelling


Paul Britten Austin served in the merchant navy until 1947. He then moved to Sweden, married Margareta Bergman, and directed English-language broadcasts from Radio Sweden. He has written widely and contributed the chapter on Marshal Oudinot to David Chandler's Napoleon's Marshals.

ISBN 1-85367-154-1 | Price: £30.00/$50.00

Format: 240 x 159mm | Hardback | Pages: 432

Features: 34 illustrations, 4 maps


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