Battle of Chashniki

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Battle of Czasniki
Part of French invasion of Russia (1812)
Date31 October 1812
Location Chashniki (Czasniki), Belarus
Result Russian victory
Belligerents
Flag of Russia.svg Russian Empire Flag of France.svg First French Empire
Commanders and leaders
Prince Peter Wittgenstein
General Yashvil
Marshal Victor
Strength
30,000, of whom 11,000 were involved 36,000, of whom 10,000 to 18,000 were involved
Casualties and losses
400 1,200

The Battle of Chashniki (Russian : Бой под Ча́шниками, Belarusian : Бой пад Ча́шнікамі), sometimes called the Battle of Czasniki (from the Polish spelling - Polish : Czaśniki), was fought during Napoleon's invasion of Russia, on 31 October 1812, between Russian forces under General Wittgenstein, and the French army, commanded by Marshal Victor. This battle was a failed effort by the French to reestablish their northern "Dvina Line", which had crumbled as a result of Wittgenstein's victory at the Second battle of Polotsk just two weeks earlier.

Russian language East Slavic language

Russian is an East Slavic language, which is official in the Russian Federation, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, as well as being widely used throughout Eastern Europe, the Baltic states, the Caucasus and Central Asia. It was the de facto language of the Soviet Union until its dissolution on 25 December 1991. Although, nowadays, nearly three decades after the breakup of the Soviet Union, Russian is used in official capacity or in public life in all the post-Soviet nation-states, as well as in Israel and Mongolia, the rise of state-specific varieties of this language tends to be strongly denied in Russia, in line with the Russian World ideology.

Belarusian language east Slavic language

Belarusian is an official language of Belarus, along with Russian, and is also spoken in Russia, Poland and Ukraine. Before Belarus gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, the language was only known in English as Byelorussian or Belorussian, transliterating the Russian name, белорусский язык Belorusskiy yazyk, or alternatively as White Ruthenian or White Russian. Following independence, it has acquired the additional name Belarusian.

Polish language West Slavic language spoken in Poland

Polish is a West Slavic language of the Lechitic group. It is spoken primarily in Poland and serves as the native language of the Poles. In addition to being an official language of Poland, it is also used by Polish minorities in other countries. There are over 50 million Polish language speakers around the world and it is one of the official languages of the European Union.

Contents

Background

Upon learning of the French defeat at Polotsk, Victor, the commander of the French IX corps which Napoleon had kept in reserve at Smolensk, marched northeast with 22,000 troops to restore the Dwina Line. At Chashniki, on the Ulla River, he united with elements of the II Corps, which was retreating from Polotsk. The combined II and IX corps put 36,000 troops at Victor's disposal. [1]

Polotsk City in Vitebsk Region, Belarus

Polotsk is a historical city in Belarus, situated on the Dvina River. It is the center of the Polotsk District in Vitsebsk Voblast. Its population is more than 80,000 people. It is served by Polotsk Airport and during the Cold War was home to Borovitsy air base.

Smolensk City in Smolensk Oblast, Russia

Smolensk ; is a city and the administrative center of Smolensk Oblast, Russia, located on the Dnieper River, 360 kilometers (220 mi) west-southwest of Moscow. Population: 326,861 (2010 Census); 325,137 (2002 Census); 341,483 (1989 Census).

Chashniki Town in Vitebsk, Belarus

Chashniki is a town in Vitebsk Region, Belarus, famous for the Battle of Ula during Livonian War and Battle of Czasniki that took place during the French Invasion of Russia (1812).

Wittgenstein, after leaving 9,000 soldiers to garrison territory captured as a result of his victory at Polotsk, marched south to Chashniki with 30,000 troops to deal with Victor. [1]

Action

The combat at Chashniki was conducted chiefly by Wittgenstein's advance guard, 11,000 troops led by General Yashvil, and the II Corps on the French side. [2]

Lev Mikhailovich Yashvil Russian general

Prince Lev Mikhailovich Yashvil, also known as Levan Mikheilis dze Iashvili was a Georgian nobleman and a general of the Imperial Russian Army. Yashvil took part in a number of significant military campaigns, including during the French invasion of Russia, the Russo-Turkish War (1787–1792) and the Kościuszko Uprising.

The battle began with the Russians attacking the II Corps, which occupied a position in advance of the rest of Victor's troops. In the ensuing combat the Russians drove the French back toward Victor's rearward line. [3] Upon encountering Victor's main position, Wittgenstein ordered Yashvil to halt, and then commenced an artillery bombardment against the French. [3] Victor, apparently unnerved by Yashvil's successful advance, decided against continuing the battle, and retreated to Senno, 25 miles to the east. [3] The Russians did not pursue.

Syanno city in Belarus

Senno or Syanno is a city in the Vitebsk Region of Belarus. It is 58 km (36 mi) southwest of Vitebsk on the southern shore of Senno Lake. Its population in 2010 was 8,000.

French casualties in this battle were 1,200 troops, as opposed to 400 lost by the Russians. [4]

Consequences

Although the Russian victory at Chashniki was indecisive, its outcome was highly unfavorable to Napoleon for several reasons.

First, Victor's defeat amounted to a failure to reestablish the Dvina Line, which was his overriding objective. Second, Victor's new position at Senno was only 30 miles from Napoleon's intended line of retreat from Moscow, thus putting the Grande Armée within Wittgenstein's attacking range. [5] Further, Wittgenstein's success increased the possibility that he could unite his command with the armies of Pavel Chichagov and Kutuzov, thus trapping the Grande Armée between three separate Russian forces.

Also, as a result of his victories at Polotsk and Chashniki, Wittgenstein dispatched a force under General Harpe to capture the massive French supply depot at Vitebsk. On 7 November, after a short combat, the French garrison at Vitebsk surrendered to Harpe, and huge caches of foodstuffs and war material fell into Russian hands. [6]

The fall of Vitebsk was a severe blow to Napoleon because he had planned to quarter his battered Grande Armée there for the winter. Napoleon's plan to combine his main army with Victor's force at Vitebsk, where they would reequip themselves before beginning the campaign anew the following spring, was now broken. [7]

Upon learning of the Russian victory at Chashniki, Napoleon ordered Victor to immediately attack Wittgenstein again and recapture Polotsk. [5] This led to yet another French defeat, the Battle of Smoliani, on 14 November 1812.

Notes

  1. 1 2 Riehn, page 360
  2. Smith (2004), page 175
  3. 1 2 3 Riehn, page 361
  4. Smith (1998), page 398
  5. 1 2 Riehn, page 343
  6. Smith (1998), page 200
  7. Cate, page 355

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References

Coordinates: 54°45′N29°15′E / 54.750°N 29.250°E / 54.750; 29.250