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The Napoleon Series > Military Information > Battles and Campaigns

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The State Borodino War and History Museum and Reserve Joins the INS

By Ben Weider

I recently was invited to attend the 185th anniversary of the Battle of Borodino in 1812 by Madame Alisa Katchalava, director of the Borodino Museum. She wanted to discuss the possibility of joining the INS and also wanted me to give a lecture to over 85 historians that were participating in the Symposium.

The trip was one of the most memorable experiences of my life: eight days in Moscow and Borodino. During this trip, I was invited by a deputy of the Russian Parliament to attend the 850th anniversary of the founding of the city of Moscow.

The activities at Borodino started with a solemn ceremony at the spot that was Napoleon's Headquarters, where a monument now stands. Troops dressed in the uniforms of various regiments of the period participated, and Oleg Sokolov played the part of Eugène Beauharnais. The French Military attaché from the French Embassy in Moscow laid a wreath at the foot of the monument.

Another ceremony took place at the Rayevski Redoubt where a very beautiful monument now stands. Soldiers dressed in the uniform of the period participated along with numerous soldiers of the modern Russian army. Over 100,000 people attended. I was honored to make a three minute speech along with the Archbishop of the Russian Orthodox church, the Governor, and two generals of the Russian army.

The next day a religious procession started after a Mass that was held at the Church of the Savior of Borodino where heavy fighting took place at the Rayevski Redoubt, which is about a mile away. A most impressive religious ceremony was held which lasted over one hour.

Following these events was the re-enactment of the battle of Borodino. Over 100,000 Russians attended this event. Considering that Moscow was celebrating three days of festivities for its 850th anniversary, this shows that the organization of the Borodino event was superb and the efficiency and dedication of Ms. Alisa Katchalova, Director, and Mr. Alexandre Gorbynov, Vice-President, were excellent.

In my speech, I spoke about the INS and explained that Napoleon was misunderstood and that the campaign of 1812 had roots in politics not in Napoleon's control. I was amazed to see that the massive crowd seemed to accept what I said.

During the next several days, lectures were given by numerous important historians, all of which were well received. Most of the historians agreed to become Fellows in the INS.

It was with great pleasure that I presented, on behalf of the INS, the Legion of Merit to Fernand Beaucour, director of the Center for Napoleonic Studies, and one of France's leading Napoleonic historians.

After the event, Ms. Katcholava agreed that the State Borodino War and History Museum and Reserve would join the INS and cooperate fully with us. Ms. Kachalova and Vice-President Alexandre Gorbynov agreed to become Fellows of the INS.

Because of her devotion in maintaining the grounds of the battlefield, which contains over 200 monuments and is over 50 kilometers long, and since she prevented some commercial companies from building on the land, I have nominated her to be awarded the Legion of Merit. The Awards Committee, under Professor Donald D. Horward's leadership, has accepted that nomination.


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