1813: Polish Eyewitness Accounts of Napoleon’s Campaign in Germany

Marek Tadeusz Łałowski
and Jonathan North

In the early weeks of January, the full scale of Napoleon’s disaster in Russia began to become apparent. An army of half a million had been swallowed up in the snow and any survivors, desperate for shelter, tormented by hunger and prey to the ravages of disease, were in no condition to fight. Napoleon’s empire would be shaken to its core, and its enemies sensed that their time had come.

This book charts the experiences, in their own words, of Polish soldiers in Napoleon’s armies, tracking them from the frosty chaos of January 1813 to that dismal crossing of the French frontier in November that same year. It tells their story, and gives their version of these great events. There are tales of daring bravado, but of hunger, want and despair, too. Of admiration for the great captain that lead them, and resentment that he was treating their cause so cavalierly. There are descriptions of battles and sieges, victories and defeats, all set against the backcloth of entire nations at war, as well as more human tales of friendship and betrayal.

This book follows on from our similar study on the experience of Poles in Napoleon’s invasion of Russia the year before. Many of the eyewitnesses are the same, although we include some new voices alongside the jaded accounts of veterans.

Published by Ken Trotman Ltd