The joy of the Great Army was hampered by the fact that the city was almost empty, and rumors of impending fires — eyewitnesses testified that there was smoke above the center of the city when the French entered. Officer Labom wrote: "The solemnity and holiness of the environment inspired us with a strong respect for the people we conquered and the involuntary fear that every great injustice has made." The fierce retribution overtook the French a few hours after being placed in Moscow - a fire broke out in many places, and by morning the center of the city was engulfed in flames, in the heat of which the invaders were often waiting for rifle fire and the sharp peaks of the Russians who remained.
The fire began on the orders of the Moscow Governor-General F.V. Rostopchin and because of the chaos in which every marauder strove to drop the torch in order to free his hands for mining. Fire equipment was evacuated, and attempts to restore order in the city were unsuccessful. The best thing about Napoleon’s officers was the situation in Moscow, the fight against arson and the consequences of the fires.
Roos, on the night of 09/15: “... we saw the flames rise in many places in the city; we soon saw eighteen such places, and their number quickly increased [...] With such a sight, we were silent and looked at each other with amazement, it seemed that we read on all faces that everyone considers this a bad omen. ”
Burgon, in one of the houses of Moscow in the evening of September 14: “... in the vast dining room the ceiling collapsed, the crystal chandelier shattered into smithereens, and all this happened because the cores were deliberately placed in a large tiled stove. The Russians reasoned that in order to exterminate us, every means is good. [...] [Later] we met the rangers' patrol [...] The sergeant who commanded them told me that they had seen convicts setting fire to several houses, and that one of them he was forced to cut off his hand with a saber to make him throw a torch, but when the torch fell from his right hand, he raised his left, with the intention to continue the arson; they were forced to kill him.
V. Vereshchagin. "Arsonists" or "Shooting in the Kremlin"
From the diary Lozhie, morning 09.16: “In the center of the city there is not a single store that survived the fire [...] Streams of fire burst from this huge bonfire, topped with a thick cloud of smoke. The bravest soldiers still decide to throw themselves into this crucible; they jump out from there burned, but loaded with jewels. Seeing this, others follow their example, but, less happy, they often do not return. ”
Vossen: “... the soldiers, as soon as they entered the suburbs, immediately fled in different directions, wherever they wanted, entered the burning houses, took everything that they came across, especially in the cellars [...]. Often it was possible to see how the upper part of the houses, burnt, fell over the cellars, full of drunk soldiers, drinking for the health of passing comrades. Thus killed thousands of people. "
Python de Losh: “... I moved my squad for the outpost, on the way to the Petrovsky Palace. The guard standing at the outpost could not go to booty into the city, and therefore their officer in the form of indemnity took away part of their booty from passing soldiers. [...] His soldiers were dead drunk, and he himself set the example for them, barely able to stand ... "
THEM. Lviv. "Robberies and violence of the French in Moscow"
Life surgeon J. Larrey: “Finally, 8-10 days later, the entire vast and beautiful city was turned into ashes. [...] The abundance to which relentless search led, damaged the discipline of the army and the health of immoderate people. This reason in itself should have accelerated our retreat to Poland. Moscow has become the second Kapui for our troops. ”
Dedem: “If there was order in the city, there would be enough food for the army for three months; but discipline no longer existed. Provisional officials thought only of themselves. Red wine was denied to the wounded generals under the pretext that it was not there. [...] The inhabitants of Moscow are fed up with the disgraces perpetrated by our servants; having lost patience, they began to kill them or ran to ask for help from the Cossacks, while our people feasted and loaded their carts and horses with all kinds of good things. ”
The master plan of the capital city of Moscow with the appointment of burnt areas (1813)
Grioua: “Most of the soldiers, for whom the abandoned cellars represented easy prey, lay drunk and half-dead in the midst of a pile of fragments from the bottles with which all the streets were littered. From such total drunkenness fights often occurred, accompanied by bloodshed. I witnessed one such scene. Once I saw soldiers standing at the hotel doors laden with bottles; I went to buy wine from them. Through a rather narrow sliding door, with the help of a staircase, they came out of the basement, in the depth of which there was a terrible noise - it was clear that there they were arguing and fighting in the dark. Soon, from the basement, a horribly pale dragoon appeared, drenched in blood and wine. He took a few steps, fell and was already on the street, died, surrounded by bottles that he held and with whom he decided to part, only dying. ”
Labs: “Staying in the capital, once brilliant, but now destroyed, did not represent anything attractive. The villages were deserted — peasants and Cossacks rode around the country, detaining our transports, stopping our couriers and generally causing us irreparable evil. Our position became more and more unbearable: the shortage of food supplies increased, discontent among the soldiers grew every day. On top of the misfortunes, the thought of peace was devoid of any probability. ”
Yelin on a speech from Moscow: “During the five weeks of its stay in Moscow, the army recovered sufficiently enough and, despite constant losses during military foraging, again numbered up to 100,000 soldiers fit for battle. But it was no longer an energetic army: most of it was sluggishly dragged in, and not still cheerfully marching. ”
The main consequence of being in Moscow was the influence of fires and chaos on the morale of the army. The fires (mostly ended on September 20) provoked desperate robbery, rampant drunkenness and fights between the French for their prey. Truly, just as Kapuya once changed the army of Hannibal forever, Moscow dealt a severe blow to the discipline and perseverance of the French, shaken faith in victory. The army faced the threat of final moral decay and problems with food supplies. Napoleon decided to leave the city on October 19 and try to find supplies and a place to winter in another part of the country. After a hasty retreat from the city, an immediate campaign against Petersburg was unthinkable; only a further retreat was seen as the salvation of the Great Army, which did not replenish, but lost in Moscow its forces. The star of Napoleon began her fall.