Chernishnia

Chernishnia

 

a right tributary of the Nara River. During the Patriotic War of 1812, a battle was fought at the Chernishnia on October 6 between Russian troops and Napoleon’s forces.

Aiming to weaken the enemy, the commander in chief of the Russian Army, Field Marshal M. I. Kutuzov, planned to crush the isolated vanguard of Marshal J. Murat—a force of more than 20,000 men located 6 km north of tbe Russian camp at Tarutino. Kutuzov divided his attack force into two arms. The left arm, which consisted of a cavalry unit commanded by General M. A. Miloradovich, was to make the main thrust. The right arm, commanded by General L. L. Bennigsen, comprised three columns. The first consisted of ten cossack regiments and a chasseur regiment, under General V. V. Orlov-Denisov; the second was formed by the II Infantry Corps, under General K. F. Baggovut; and the third was made up of the IV Infantry Corps and a cuirassier division, under General A. I. Osterman-Tolstoi. The III Infantry Corps and the I Cavalry Corps were held in reserve.

Army partisan detachments led by I. S. Dorokhov and A. S. Figner were assigned to move in the direction of the village of Voronovo to block the enemy’s path of retreat. Orlov-Denisov’s column skirted the enemy’s flank and, in a surprise attack, overran the French cuirassier division. Owing to Bennigsen’s poor leadership, however, and to a lack of coordination, the infantry columns were slow in reaching their assault positions. The attack in the center was repelled by the enemy, and Baggovut was killed. Despite successful operations by Miloradovich and Osterman-Tolstoi, Bennigsen halted the attacks. As a result, Murat, who had suffered substantial losses (2,500 killed, 2,000 captured, and 38 artillery pieces disabled), was able to pull back to Voronovo.

The Russians pursued the vanguard as far as Spas-Kuplia, where Kutuzov, having received word of Napoleon’s impending withdrawal from Moscow, halted the pursuit without bringing in his principal forces. Although the victory was incomplete, it played an important role in raising the combat morale of the Russian troops.

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