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In early June, Bennigsen mounted an offensive which was quickly parried by the French. On 14 June, Bennigsen unwisely fought the Battle of Friedland with a river at his back and saw his army mauled with heavy losses. Following this defeat, Alexander was forced to sue for peace with Napoleon at Tilsit on 7 July , with Russia becoming Napoleon's ally.

Russia lost little territory under the treaty, and Alexander made use of his alliance with Napoleon for further expansion. Napoleon created the Duchy of Warsaw out of former Prussian territory. The eastern part became the Russian Grand Duchy of Finland. Simultaneously, their French allies occupied Dalmatia and threatened to penetrate the Danubian principalities at any time. In order to safeguard the Russian border against a possible French attack, a 40,strong Russian contingent advanced into Moldavia and Wallachia.

The Sultan reacted by blocking the Dardanelles to Russian ships in and declared war on Russia. The war lasted until The requirement of joining France's Continental Blockade against Britain was a serious disruption of Russian commerce, and in Alexander repudiated the obligation. This strategic change was followed by a substantial reform in the army undertaken by Michael Andreas Barclay de Tolly as the Minister of War. At the same time, Russia continued its expansion. Thus, Alexander I became the constitutional monarch of Poland while remaining the autocratic tsar of Russia.

He was also the limited monarch of Finland, which had been annexed in and awarded autonomous status.

The Russo-French alliance gradually became strained. Napoleon was concerned about Russia's intentions in the strategically vital Bosphorus and Dardanelles straits. At the same time, Alexander viewed the Duchy of Warsaw , the French-controlled reconstituted Polish state, with suspicion.

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The result was the War of the Sixth Coalition from to In , Napoleon invaded Russia to compel Alexander I to remain in the Continental System and to remove the imminent threat of Russian invasion of Poland. Russia proclaimed a Patriotic War, while Napoleon proclaimed a Second Polish war, but against the expectations of the Poles who supplied almost , troops for the invasion force he avoided any concessions toward Poland, having in mind further negotiations with Russia.

The Russian Army of the Napoleonic Wars (1)

Russia maintained a scorched earth policy of retreat, broken only by the Battle of Borodino on 7 September, when the Russians stood and fought. This was bloody and the Russians eventually retreated, opening the road to Moscow. Field Marshal Mikhail Kutuzov made the decision in order to preserve the army. By 14 September, the French captured Moscow. The Russian governor Prince Rastopchin ordered the city burnt to the ground and large parts of it were destroyed.

Alexander I refused to capitulate, and with no sign of clear victory in sight, Napoleon was forced to withdraw from Moscow's ruins.

So the disastrous Great Retreat began, with , casualties largely as a result of starvation and the freezing weather conditions, and , captured. Napoleon narrowly escaped total annihilation at the Battle of Berezina , but his army was wrecked nevertheless. By December only 20, fit soldiers from the main army were among those who recrossed the Neman at Kaunas. By this time Napoleon had abandoned his army to return to Paris and prepare a defence against the advancing Russians. This soon forced Prussia to declare war on France, and with its mobilisation, for many Prussian officers serving in the Russian Army to leave, creating a serious shortage of experienced officers in the Russian Army.

After the death of Kutuzov in early , command of the Russian army passed to Peter Wittgenstein. The campaign was noted for the number of sieges the Russian Army conducted and the large number of Narodnoe Opolcheniye that continued to serve in its ranks until newly trained recruits could reach the area of combat operations. Aleksey Petrovich Yermolov emerged as one of the leading and talented senior commanders of the army, participating in many important battles, including the Battle of Leipzig.

In Russia gained territory in the Baku area of the Caucasus from Qajar Iran as much due to the news of Napoleon's defeat in as the fear by the Shah of a new campaign against him by the resurgent Russian Army where the campaign led by Matvei Platov failed. This was immediately used to raise new regiments, and to begin creating a greater foothold in the Caucasus. By the early 19th century, the empire also was firmly ensconced in Alaska reached via Cossack expeditions to Siberia, although only a rudimentary military presence was possible due to the distance from Europe.

The campaign in France was marked by persistent advances made by the Russian-led forces towards Paris despite attempts by Alexander's allies to allow Napoleon an avenue for surrender. In a brilliant deceptive manoeuvre Alexander was able to reach, and take Paris with the help of the treason of Marshal Marmont before Napoleon could reinforce its garrison, effectively ending the campaign. The allies created an international system to maintain the territorial status quo and prevent the resurgence of an expansionist France.

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This included each ally maintaining a corps of occupation in France. The Quadruple Alliance, confirmed by a number of international conferences, ensured Russia's influence in Europe, if only because of the proven capability of its army to defeat that of Napoleon, and to carry the war to Paris. After the allies defeated Napoleon, Alexander played a prominent role in the redrawing of the map of Europe at the Congress of Vienna in Many of the prominent Russian commanders were feted in the European capitals, including London. In the same year, under the influence of religious mysticism, Alexander initiated the creation of the Holy Alliance , a loose agreement pledging the rulers of the nations involved—including most of Europe—to act according to Christian principles.

This emerged in part due to the influence religion had played in the army during the war of , and its influence on the common soldiers and officers alike. The Russian occupation forces in France, though not participating in the Belgian campaign, re-entered combat against the minor French forces in the East and occupied several important fortresses. The Imperial Russian Army entered the Napoleonic Wars organized administratively and in the field on the same principles as it had been in the 18th century of units being assigned to campaign headquarters, and the "army" being known either for its senior commander, or the area of its operations.

Administratively, the regiments were assigned to Military Inspections, the predecessors of military districts , and included the conscript training depots, garrisons and fortress troops and munitions magazines.

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The army had been thoroughly reorganised on the Prussian model by the Tsar's father Paul I against wishes of most of its officer corps, and with his demise immediate changes followed to remove much of the Prussianness from its character. Although the army had conventional European parts within it such as the monarch's guard, the infantry and cavalry of the line and field artillery, it also included a very large contingent of semi-regular Cossacks that in times of rare peace served to guard the Russian Empire's southern borders, and in times of war served as fully-fledged light cavalry, providing invaluable reconnaissance service often far better than that available to other European armies due to the greater degree of initiative and freedom of movement by Cossack detachments.

Another unusual feature of the army that was seen twice during the period was the constitution of the Narodnoe Opolcheniye , for the first time since the coming to power of the Romanov dynasty. In most of the Inspections were abolished, and replaced by divisions based on the French model although still territorially based.

By there were 25 infantry divisions as permanent field formations, each organised around three infantry brigade and one artillery brigade. When Barclay de Tolly became the Minister of War in , he instituted further reorganization and other changes in the army, down to company level, that saw the creation of separate grenadier divisions, and dedication of one brigade in each division to the jaeger light infantry for skirmishing in open order formations.

The guard grew from a few regiments to two infantry divisions combined into the V Infantry Corps commanded at Borodino by General Lieutenant Lavrov and two cavalry divisions with their own artillery and train by the conclusion of the campaign. The army saw combat against the British and French during the Crimean War of — In the Russian Empire, the Cossacks were organized into several voiskos hosts , named after the regions of their location, whether along the Russian border, or internal borders between Russian and non-Russian peoples.

Each host had its own leadership and traditions as well as uniforms and ranks. However, by the late 19th century, the latter were standardized following the example of the Imperial Russian Army. Each host was required to provide a number of regiments for service in the Imperial Russian Army and for border patrol work. While most Cossacks served as cavalry, there were infantry and artillery units in several of the larger hosts.

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Three regiments of Cossacks formed part of the Imperial Guard, as well as the konvoi —the tsar's mounted escort. The Imperial Guard regiments wore tailored government-issue uniforms of a spectacular and colourful appearance. As an example, the Konvoi wore scarlet cherkesskas , white beshmets and red crowns on their fleece hats. The Cossack institution recruited and incorporated Muslim Mishar Tatars. Bashkirs and Kalmyks in the Russian military fought against Napoleon's forces. Bashkir women fought among the regiments.

The reforms carried on during Milyutin's long tenure abolished the system of conscription of children , and resulted in the levy system being introduced in Russia and military districts being created across the country. As part of Milyutin's reforms, on 1 January , the Tsar approved a conscription statute that made military service compulsory for all year-old males with the term reduced for land army to six years plus nine years in reserve.

This conscription created a large pool of experienced military reservists who would be ready to mobilize in case of war. It also permitted the Russian Empire to maintain a smaller standing army in peacetime. Ironically, this reform was a disaster for the Tsarist regime. By reducing the length of service, peasant elders and officials could no longer threaten radical youths with conscription. Soldiers now kept their peasant identities and many learned new skills and became literate. They radicalised the villages on their return.

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The system of military education was also reformed, and elementary education was made available to all the draftees. Milyutin's reforms are regarded as a milestone in the history of Russia: they dispensed with the military recruitment and professional army introduced by Peter the Great and created the Russian army such as it continued into the 21st century.

Up to Dmitry Milyutin's reforms in the Russian Army had no permanent barracks and was billeted in dugouts and shacks. The army saw service against the Turks during the Russo-Turkish War.