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July 8 1812: Bagration Urges Attack


On July 8 1812, Prince Pyotr Ivanovich Bagration, who commands the Russian second Army of the West, is exasperated with the retreat in the face of the advances by the Grande Armée deep into Russia. Bagration is for attack. He had earlier suggested to Tsar Alexander a pre-emptive strike against the French in the Duchy of Warsaw. He is now opposed to Barclay de Tolly`s defensive strategy of retreat. A large number of the Russian generals, perhaps the majority, believed that an offensive strategy should be employed. Bagration writes to Count Alexey Andreyevich Arakcheyev on July 8:
I am not to blame for anything. First they stretched me out like a gut, while the enemy broke into our lines without a shot. We began to retreat, no one knows why. You will get no one in the army, or in Russia, to believe that we have not been betrayed. I can not defend all Russia alone…. I am completely encircled and can not say yet where shall I break through. I implore you to advance against the enemy… or else it shall be the worse for us when the enemy comes and perhaps on the domestic front as well. It does not befit Russian to run. We are behaving worse than the Prussians…. One feels ashamed…. I have no peace and I do not live for myself, God is my witness; I am glad to do everything in my power, but you must have a conscience and be just. You will continue retiring, and I am asked to break through. If my person can not be borne here, better have me released from the yoke which is on my neck and send someone else to command. But why torment the soldiers without purpose and satisfaction?


Notes
The above letter and information is taken from “The Mutiny of Generals” By Alexander Mikaberidze , FINS which can be found here. 

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