I am finding conflicting information when searching online for 1) The size of Napoleon's army when he invaded Russia and 2) The number of casualties in the Battle of Borodino. There are many books on this topic, but not in my library. I would really appreciate if someone could suggest a reliable source and would be delighted if they could mention page numbers.

  • One of the things you'll find researching battles is that there is, more often than not, a variation in accounts of the numbers taking part. That's usually because during a campaign it was difficult to keep track of the actual sizes of units as men were lost (casualties and desertions) and replacements came in. So I doubt that you'll find a truly definitive source for these numbers (even from the official French archives). – Steve Bird Aug 2 '16 at 5:12
  • the french had problems with supplies, in the build up area and a lotto theorises were not in great condition, napoleon's generals were padding there available manpower figures, so there is going toe no certainty about numbers crossing into Russia, – pugsville Aug 2 '16 at 7:02
  • had look at wikipedia it's pretty reasonable on numbers – pugsville Aug 2 '16 at 7:15
  • Dominic Livens "Russia Against Napoleon"page 206 45-50,000 russian 35,000 french. for the grand armee ho do you count it, those crossing into Russia with the central forces? include the flanking armies ? all the reinforcements that crossed later? – pugsville Aug 2 '16 at 7:24

A good summary is provided by Minard's chart of 1869; see Analyzing Minard's Visualization Of Napoleon's 1812 March for an analysis.

If you click on the graphic you find 422,000 is the starting size, but this is in Lithuania. It is 400,000 at Vilnius, but 60,000 troops are removed on the upper branch.

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  • I think 400,000 is the generally accepted number for the invading force. It was I believe the largest assembled military in Western History at that time...and for some time thereafter. That would be "the core" of the invading force. The actual number would be much, much, much larger. – Doctor Zhivago Aug 2 '16 at 23:22

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