Thursday 13 June 2024

The Russian Patriotic War of 1812, or how to be pleasantly overrun with Russian Napoleonic titles!

As the title of this post suggests, and if like me you are interested in all things Russian in terms of the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, then you will be overjoyed that Helion are continuing their trend of publishing such titles with volume one of the official Russian history of the 1812 campaign. 

This work, originally published under the intriguing title of ‘The History of the Patriotic War of 1812 According to Reliable Sources Compiled in Accordance with Supreme Orders’ in 1861 has been translated by author, historian and linguist Peter G. A. Phillips. I will say this now as the book needs no other endorsement other than to say it did not read like a translation from the original Russian whatsoever. I think the correct term is ‘sympathetically translated’. 

This hefty book of almost 400 pages is a comprehensive look at the campaign, starting with the build up prior to the commencement of hostilities before launching into the invasion itself. The descriptions of the movements of the armies, and the battles of Smolensk, Lubino, Gorodechno, Klyastisy and finally Polotsk are clear and detailed, scattered throughout with original correspondence and reports which always add significantly to any campaign narrative. 

The appendices are equally comprehensive, many of them being transcriptions of contemporary reports and orders. There are of course numerous useful orders of battle and there are also a good number of well detailed maps of the theatres of operations and of the individual battles.

This was an enjoyable and fascinating read. As I’ve said earlier the translation is seamless (if that’s the right word) which makes it all that much easier to follow.  I certainly know much more about the initial stages of the invasion of Russia than I had previously and am looking forward immensely to the next volume in the series. For Napoleonic fans this is a must buy book.

ISBN978-1-804514-32-0 Soft covers, 386 pages.


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