Battle of Vyazma, by Piter von Hess. Fought on Nov 3, 1812, the battle pitted Napoleon's retreating Grand Army against a Russian pursuing force lead by General Miloradovich. In a series of confused actions in and around the city of Vyazma (which burned to the ground) the French were cut down by determined Russian attacks that included the ferocious Cossacks.The battle ended with the Napoleonic rear guard on the run and with many of its units destroyed by Cossack forays.
On June 24, 1812, ignoring the advice of his closest advisors, Napoleon invaded Russia. Never in living memory had so large an army been assembled — Italians, Poles, German, French — more than 600,000 men from every corner of his empire. Napoleon prophesied the war would be over in twenty days. Moscow was at his mercy, but the Russians refused to make peace. As Napoleon’s army entered the city on September 14, he found it almost deserted. That night, Moscow began to burn.