Friday 21 July 2023

The Campaign in Poland 1806-1807

The rate at which Helion are publishing books covering the period between 1805 and 1807 is such that anyone with an interest in the efforts of the Russian army during these years will probably feel like the proverbial kid in a sweet shop there is so much on offer!

Following hard on the heels of ‘Tsar Alexander’s Second War with Napoleon 1806-1807’ by Alexander Ivanovich Mikhailovsky-Dailevsky, we now have ‘Confronting Napoleon. Levin von Bennigsen’s Memoir of the Campaign in Poland, 1806-1807. Volume 1, Pultusk to Eylau’.

The book starts with an interesting series of discussions on the geopolitical situation in Europe, particularly with relevance to Russia and her relationships with her neighbours such as Sweden, the Ottomans, Prussia, Austria, France and England.

This is all useful scene setting before we are launched into a very informative narrative of the campaign, which is ideal for those readers with limited understanding of this complex campaign, but no less so given the source material for anyone with a greater depth of knowledge. The course of the campaign through the wilds of Poland in winter is particularly interesting, written as it is from the perspective of Benningson in his memoirs, where he describes the logistical nightmare of campaigning in Poland, and the operational challenges faced by a far from unified Russian command. Of course everything comes to a conclusion (for this volume at least) with the confusing bloodbath that was the battle of Eylau, which is described in detail.

The book contains a number of useful maps, both of the theatre of war and of some of the individual battles, together with a number of contemporary black and white illustrations. Do not overlook the numerous and detailed footnotes as they provide some fascinating supporting information, as does the inclusion of Marshal Ney’s captured correspondence.

This book is a must for anyone interested in this campaign, and this is a tremendous first volume. I eagerly await volume 2.

The down side of all these books on the years from 1805-1807 is that my plans for a Russo-Swedish War 1808-1809 project have been expanded, as I am going to end up with far more Russians than required for that little war, but I WILL have enough for these campaigns as well. All I need is to find someone with enough French to fight them. Get painting guys!

ISBN 978-1-915070-44-9. Softback, 230 pages.


  1. This looks like a good read. I’ll put it down on the acquisition list. Thanks for the heads up Colin.

  2. Thanks for the review. I am starting a Christmas list.