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Russian Artillery on the Eve of the Battle of Borodino: 7 September 1812: Introduction

By Alexander Mikaberidze

Note: author will appreciate any comments and/or suggestion on the article.

Artillery played a central part at the battle of Borodino. At the later stages of the battle staggering numbers of guns were assembled by each side to pulverize the opponent. By the afternoon of 7 September, Napoleon concentrated some 300 cannon against Bagration's positions on the Russian left flank and Rayevky's redoubt in the center. Russians replied with over 300 guns.[1] Considering the importance and role of the artillery in this milestone battle, this article aims to detail Russian artillery during the battle.

Russian Artillery

Russian Foot Artillery


The Russian Army arrived at Borodino on 3 September 1812. Field Marshal Mikhail Kutuzov deployed his forces with Mikhail Barclay de Tolly's 1st Western Army on the right flank and Peter Bagration's 2nd Western Army on the left. The strength of the Russian army is still a matter of controversy, with numbers varying from 120,000 to 155,000 men.[2] Therefore, it is better to examine each army separately.

According to the reports, the 1st Western Army numbered 75,373 men (not including Cossacks and militia) and 420 guns. Kutuzov was informed that the 1st Western Army enlisted 67,391 soldiers and 7,982 officers; artillery consisted of 144 battery, 200 light and 76 horse guns. The total number of the guns in the 1st Western Army amounted to 438 cannon. [3]





[1] Chandler, The Campaigns of Napoleon, 801. Some authors acknowledged 400 French cannon. Glinka, The Battle of Borodino, II, 10-15; Tarle, Borodino, 40; Zhilin, The Patriotic War of 1812, 163; Beskrovny, The Patriotic War of 1812, 61; Garnich, Commander Kutuzov: A Compilation of Articles, 219; Nafziger, Napoleon's Invasion of Russia, 237.

[2] Beskrovny, The Patriotic War of 1812, 50; Zhilin, Patriotic War of 1812, 155; Muratov, Historical Survey of Patriotic War and it's Reasons, 93; Tarle, Napoleon's Invasion of Russia, 188; Duffy, Borodino, 87; Chandler, The Campaigns of Napoleon, 796, 799; Foord, Napoleon's Russian Campaign, 200-01; Josselson, The Commander: a Life of Barclay de Tolly, 135; Sokhvadze, Boris, 1812 tslis samamulo omis gmirta istoriidan [From the History of The Patriotic War of 1812], (Tbilisi, 1988), 182; Smith, The Napoleonic Wars Data Book, 392; Garnich, N. Borodinskoe srazhenie [The Battle of Borodino], Polkovodets Kutuzov: sbornik statei [Commander Kutuzov: A Compilation of Articles], (Moscow, 1965), 192-93; Austin, Napoleon's Invasion of Russia (The March on Moscow), 262. Kutuzov reported 113,323 men (not including Cossacks and militia) in both armies. Alexander to Kutuzov, 5 September, 1812, Kutuzov: a Compilation of Documents, IV, 138.

[3] Report on the composition of the 1st Western Army, 6 September 1812, Kutuzov: a Compilation of Documents, IV, 147; also Borodino: Documents, Letters and Recollections, 27, 75; Larionov, A. Ispolzovanie artilerii v Borodinskom srazhenii [Artillery at the Battle of Borodino], Tysiacha vosem'sot dvenadtsatyi god: k stopiatidesiatiletiiu Otechestvennoi voiny [The Year of 1812 - to the 150th Anniversary of the Patriotic War (compilation of articles)], (Moscow, 1962) 116-33.



Placed on the Napoleon Series: August 2002


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