Battle of Polotsk (August 1812)



Arc de Triomphe: POLOTSK


August 17, 1812 - August 18, 1812

Marshal Oudinot commanding the II Corps was advancing on Saint Petersburg when he encountered the Russian Army of the West led by General Wittgenstein at Polotsk. Oudinot was wounded during the first day of fighting and turned over command to General Gouvion St. Cyr, thinking the battle was lost. However, Gouvion St. Cyr rose to the challenge and pushed the Russians back, winning the battle. For this achievement, Napoleon awarded him a marshal's baton. Despite winning the battle, the French decided to no longer advance on Saint Petersburg and instead protect that flank of the Grande Armée from the area around Polotsk.


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Updated March 2014

© Nathan D. Jensen