The historians consider that, next to the battle of Borodino and the occupation of Moscow by the enemy and its destruction by fire, the most important episode of the war of 1812 was the movement of the Russian army from the Ryazana to the Kaluga road and to the Tarutino camp- the so-called flank march across the Krasnaya Pakhra River.
What would have happened if on approaching Tarutino, Napoleon had attacked the Russians with but a tenth of the energy he had shown when he attacked them at Smolensk?
Having crossed over, by a forced march, to the Tula road beyond the Pakhra, the Russian commanders intended to remain at Podolsk and had no thought of the Tarutino position; but innumerable circumstances and the reappearance of French troops who had for a time lost touch with the Russians, and projects of giving battle, and above all the abundance of provisions in Kaluga province, obliged our army to turn still more to the south and to cross from the Tula to the Kaluga road and go to Tarutino, which was between the roads along which those supplies lay.
Kikin from the Russian camp at Tarutino
in early October of that year.
As the French retreated he was the only one to say that all our manoeuvres were pointless, everything would happen on its own better than we could desire, the enemy must be allowed to march to destruction across a "golden bridge," the battles of Tarutino
, Vyazma and Krasnoye were totally unnecessary, we must hold something back to reach the frontier with, and he wouldn't give a single Russian for ten Frenchmen.
Principal battles: Pultusk (1806); Eylau (Bagrationovsk), Friedland (Pravdinsk) (1807); Borodino, Tarutino
(1812); Leipzig (1813); blockade of Hamburg (1814).
(28) Russian troops also indulged in considerable mayhem, not just during their retreat through Moscow but also in the vicinity of their camp at Tarutino
. (29) Given the immense strains of so long a retreat, followed by the huge losses at Borodino and the withdrawal through the streets of Moscow, some disorder was inevitable, however.