Bagration flèches

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The Bagration flèches (Russian: багратионовы флеши) are certain historic military earthworks named after Pyotr Bagration who ordered their construction. Bagration flèches_sentence_0

They were the pivotal Russian strongholds on the left flank during the Battle of Borodino in 1812. Bagration flèches_sentence_1

Located south-west of the village of Semyonovskoye, the flèches consisted of two lunettes and one redan, which were stormed eight times in the course of the battle. Bagration flèches_sentence_2

The flèches were constructed by infantry divisions of the 2nd Army and militiamen to give an opportunity to the artillery of firing not only to the French front, but also the flank. Bagration flèches_sentence_3

Five hundred men were detailed to their construction from each division, except the 27th, which sent six hundred. Bagration flèches_sentence_4

The left work was erected by the 26th Infantry Division, the right by the 2nd Grenadier Division and the middle one by the 2nd Combined Grenadier. Bagration flèches_sentence_5

The construction was finished on August 25, 1812 (O.S. Bagration flèches_sentence_6 , used by the Russians) (September 6, N.S., used by the French). Bagration flèches_sentence_7

Attacks Bagration flèches_section_0

The Bagration flèches were occupied by the 11th and the 32nd Russian Battery Companies. Bagration flèches_sentence_8

The left work had twelve guns, the middle one had seven and the right five. Bagration flèches_sentence_9

Each work also had one battalion from the 2nd Combined Grenadier Division. Bagration flèches_sentence_10

Twenty eight guns were stationed near the flèches. Bagration flèches_sentence_11

On August 26 / September 7, about 6 a.m. Bagration flèches_sentence_12 , Napoleon launched the fight for the flèches according to plan. Bagration flèches_sentence_13

Two infantry divisions of Joseph Marie, Count Dessaix and Jean Dominique Compans, supported by 102 guns, assaulted the flèches directly. Bagration flèches_sentence_14

The first attack was repelled by fire from the guns and Jäger infantry units. Bagration flèches_sentence_15

In the second attempt, the French dragged their artillery closer to the Kamenka Brook and strengthened the troops with three extra infantry divisions from Michel Ney's corps, three from Joachim Murat's cavalry corps and additional artillery. Bagration flèches_sentence_16

After the attack at about 7 a.m. Compans' troops burst into the left flèche. Bagration flèches_sentence_17

The assault was repelled again by Russian infantry, the Akhtyr hussars and Novorossiyan dragoons. Bagration flèches_sentence_18

Bagration ordered Nikolay Raevsky to move the entire line of his 7th Infantry Corps (eight battalions) to the left-flank works. Bagration flèches_sentence_19

During the struggle, several French generals were wounded, and Louis-Nicolas Davout received a concussion after falling from a horse killed under him. Bagration flèches_sentence_20

Before the third attack, Lieutenant-General Aleksandr Tuchkov was ordered to send reinforcements, the 3rd Infantry Division of Pyotr Konovnitsyn. Bagration flèches_sentence_21

At about 8 a.m., after a bombardment, the French stormed the flèches again, some being eliminated with canister shot. Bagration flèches_sentence_22

Compans' infantry retook the left flèche while Francois Roch Ledru des Essarts' troops rushed into the spaces between flèches. Bagration flèches_sentence_23

The offensive was repulsed by a bayonet counter-attack of soldiers of the 2nd Combined Grenadier and 27th Infantry Divisions. Bagration flèches_sentence_24

At about 9 a.m. Napoleon ordered the fourth assault. Bagration flèches_sentence_25

The French succeeded in taking the flèches one hour later, but were driven out soon after. Bagration flèches_sentence_26

During the fifth attempt, at 11 a.m., the French took the right and the left fortifications, and General Tuchkov was killed. Bagration flèches_sentence_27

However, Konovnitsyn's division managed to counter-attack and repelled the French again. Bagration flèches_sentence_28

An attempt to gain the flèches' rear through the forest failed. Bagration flèches_sentence_29

After regrouping, Jean Andoche Junot's infantry gained the rear of the troops defending the flèches, but it was overthrown shortly after, and Ney's and Davout's frontal attacks were also parried. Bagration flèches_sentence_30

The seventh assault was made futile by the Brest, Ryazan, Minsk and Kremenchug Infantry Regiments, while Ney's and Davout's offensives were warded off once more. Bagration flèches_sentence_31

The last storming was so powerful that the Russian artillery failed to stop the French columns. Bagration flèches_sentence_32

Bagration ordered the infantry to counter-attack and not to wait till the French approached the flèches. Bagration flèches_sentence_33

The fierce combat lasted about an hour. Bagration flèches_sentence_34

General Bagration fell from his horse when hit by shell splinters while leading the counterattack and got evacuated from the battlefield. Bagration flèches_sentence_35

From 60,000 men assembled for storming the flèches, up to 30,000 were lost. Bagration flèches_sentence_36

Historians have marked the slaughter as the "grave of the French infantry". Bagration flèches_sentence_37

This had been the biggest battle ever recorded in terms of the casualty rate, around about half the people on the field of battle ended up as casualties. Bagration flèches_sentence_38

The number of the dead remained the highest until the first day of the Battle of the Somme in World War 1. Bagration flèches_sentence_39

References and notes Bagration flèches_section_1

Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: flèches.